Wigan churchyard manslaughter: Two men and two teens locked up over dad-of-two's death

Two men and two teenagers have been locked up for the manslaughter of a father-of-two who was kicked to death for his £11,000 gold Rolex watch.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 2:54 pm

Steven McMyler, 34, was kicked in the head with a “substantial level of force” as he sat on a bench within the church grounds on the evening of August 6 2020. He was the victim of an ill-fated plot, orchestrated by Lewis Peake, to rob his Rolex watch which was worth an estimated £11,000.

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Wigan churchyard death trial: Gang convicted of dad-of-two's manslaughter

Lewis Peake, 30, of James Street, Little Lever, Bolton, Michael Wilson, 20, of Northfield Close, Kirkby, and two youths aged 14 and 17 from Merseyside who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob following a trial in May.

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Steven McMyler

Today, Peake received 13 years, and Wilson nine years in jail.

The 17-year-old boy was ordered to serve eight years and the 14-year-old six years.

A fifth suspect from Kirkby is due to stand trial for murder later this year.

During the trial, the Crown said the defendants were “opportunistic predators” who saw an opportunity to take advantage of Mr McMyler, who was alone and worse the wear for drink as he was kicked in the head.

Tributes left at the scene of Mr McMyler's death

The judge, Mr Justice Turner, described their actions as “a cowardly plan” .

He told the defendants: “The jury were sure the CCTV depicted you, Peake, taking the Liverpool group to one side and shortly after Mr McMyler was attacked with all of you in close and intimidatory proximity.

“After the attack, the members of the Liverpool group all ran off and made their escape in what am I sure was a state of exhilaration, the description given by witnesses.

“I have heard about the impact which Mr McMyler’s death has had upon his mother, his two young daughters and their mothers.

Michael Wilson

“His loss has had a deep impact and no sentence of this court will come close to atoning for his death.”

On that fateful day last August, Mr McMyler had returned to Wigan from London, after cancelling plans to travel to Thailand upon learning that he would need to self-isolate for a fortnight.

He was still carrying his suitcase with him when he first met Peake in a pub. It was here, after discovering the high value of Mr McMyler’s watch, that Peake decided he would rob him.

He first tried to persuade two schoolboys outside The Raven pub to help himcarry out the attack, and was said to have promised £100 to assault him.

Lewis Peake

The offer was rejected, but Peake was not so easily deterred in the execution of his plan as he and Mr McMyler walked to the church gardens.

The four males from Merseyside arrived at Wigan Wallgate train station at 7.12pm and seven minutes later walked up to the entranceof the church garden.

A short discussion between them and Peake took place, and Mr McMyler was surrounded by the group, before he was “volleyed” in the head.

Matters took an unpredictable turn as Mr McMyler lay dying, when the Merseyside group turned on Peake.

The youngest defendant – aged 13 at the time – struck him over the head with a bottle as they demanded cash.

After a bleeding Peake ran away they too dashed from the church, and were said to be “laughing or grinning” as they took a taxi back to Merseyside.

Peake later shamelessly returned to the attack scene and casually made off with Mr McMyler’s phone and suitcase as he lay dying. When he was arrested later that day, he told police he had “zero” involvement in Mr McMyler’s death, and painted himself as the victim of an assault.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Heidi Cullum, Officer in Case for Operation Manhattan, said: “Our endeavour from day one of this investigation was to get some justice for Steven’s family and friends after he was so tragically taken away from them.

“On that evening last August, Lewis Peake, Michael Wilson and the two teenage boys, embarked on what was ultimately a fatal plot to rob Steven of his watch - when what they actually ended up doing was robbing him and his loved ones of his life.

“Their cowardly actions and subsequent denial of their roles in this killing means that there is great satisfaction for the investigation team that these four are now behind bars.

“No sentence could ever be enough for Steven’s family, who have been subjected to their own life sentence, and they now must prepare to relive the trauma once again for the final trial of the fifth defendant later in the year.

“They have remained admirably strong throughout this case and my thoughts, and the thoughts of all the investigation team, remain with them today.”

'It's a pain I wouldn't wish on anyone':

During the sentencing, victim impact statements from members of Mr McMyler’s family were read in court.

Natalie Ralphs, the mother of one of his two daughters, who was seven at the time, said: “Thursday August 6 2020 should have been a normal summer’s day, and our daughter would be enjoying the last few weeks of her school summer holidays.

“Steven and our daughter loved each other very much. An unconditional band, they shared the same feelings.

“I, her mother, received a phone call to inform me of Steven’s death. I cannot explain the sheer panic I felt, knowing what I had to do in the next coming days. How do you tell your daughter that their daddy is dead? And, more so, that he was taken, which was no accident.

“The pain this crime has caused is immense, and time will not get easier for me, as I still need to explain to our daughter exactly what happened to her father.

“The fact of the matter is, this should not have happened. It’s barbaric, and my child has been left without her protector in life.”

She went on: “Our daughter held my right hand as I began to tell her what had happened.

“She pulled her hand away from mine, covering her eyes and screaming ‘no, no, no, not my daddy’. It sounded like a wounded animal, in pain. She tried to run but didn’t know what to do. Her heart broke in that second as I held her, both crying on the floor.

“This has impacted our daughter and knocked her confidence. She won’t let me out of her sight, and has even caused her to feel embarrassed that her daddy isn’t her anymore, and that she is different from her friends. Why should a seven-year-old experience this?”

Mr McMyler’s mother, Carole, said: “Our lives were turned upside down forever.As a family, each of us has felt as though our hearts have been ripped out of our chests in an instant, shattered into tiny pieces. It’s a pain I would not wish on anyone. Our minds struggle desperately to try and understand what happened and, more so, why.Why our Steven? Why such a well-liked and popular lad?”

She went on: “It still feels surreal even months on.

“Everyday becomes a challenge to figure out how to live without Steven.”

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