Wigan man's trial begins after woman left for dead in alley

The Scholes alleyway where the incident took place
The Scholes alleyway where the incident took place

A Wigan man has gone on trial in the crown court after a woman was left for dead in an alleyway.

On the first day of proceedings against Anthony Sherburn at Crown Square in Manchester, jurors heard how Sharon O’Reilly was found unconscious behind Bryham Street in Scholes at around 2am on Thursday August 9 last year.

Bryham Street

Bryham Street

Graphic details of the “horrific” head injury she suffered were given to the court by a police officer who attended the scene and the 999 call to the emergency services was played to the silent room.

CCTV footage also appeared to show Sherburn, a 36-year-old of Darlington Street East, and the attack victim meeting in Wigan town centre and getting a taxi back to Scholes just a couple of hours before she was seriously injured.

The court was also told a neighbour on Bryham Street heard a man and woman arguing over money followed by the sound of a punch.

Sherburn faces two alternative charges of attempted murder and inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent.

Police investigating the scene

Police investigating the scene

The trial is expected to last for five days.

With Judge Richard Mansell QC presiding, the court heard PC Hannah Syddall describe the scene when she and a colleague arrived at around 2.18am that Thursday.

She said: “I saw a figure on the floor and as I approached I realised it was a female.

“Her injuries were quite horrific. Her head was just covered in blood, her eye was bulging out. She was making this gurgling noise. We panicked thinking she was going to choke and put her in the recovery position straight away.

“The injury was over her ear and there was a big swelling.”

In the 999 call a shocked resident told the emergency services there was “someone knocked out on the floor” and the “head is smashed in”.

In a witness statement a neighbour said he heard a man and a woman arguing over money at around 2am on that Thursday, with the male voice making accusations of stealing cash and demanding its return and the female voice pleading innocence.

There was then the sound of a punch and an exclamation of pain and shock from the female voice, the court was told.

Prosecuting, David Bentley then took the police officer in charge of the case, DS Nigel Rigby, through CCTV evidence gathered from cameras across Wigan town centre and Scholes.

Footage showed a man identified as Sherburn spend several hours in The Raven pub on the evening of Wednesday August 8 before being seen walking beside Ms O’Reilly up an alleyway onto Wallgate at around 11.45pm.

CCTV then appeared to show them getting into a taxi and being dropped off on Wellington Street in Scholes before walking along Darlington Street East.

Around an hour later a vehicle identified by DS Rigby as Sherburn’s Mitsubishi returned to the Wellington Street location.

The court then saw footage of Ms O’Reilly walking along Bryham Street before heading into the back alleyway behind the terraced properties at around 1.59am.

The Mitsubishi was then seen pulling up and DS Rigby said Sherburn got out of the car and went into the backs, emerging around 90 seconds later and driving off.

Sherburn is represented in court by Paul Becker. The defence is expected to open its case today.

Proceeding.