A KILLER has been jailed for life for brutally murdering a man in his own home after wrongly thinking he was a paedo.
Edward Fitzgerald, 50, burst into Raymond Dixon’s home in Bury, Greater Manchester, and savagely beat him to death by repeatedly kicking and punching him.
Fitzgerald was told the unfounded rumour about Mr Dixon being a paedophile by Lee Hopkinson, who recruited him and fellow drug addict Anthony Dennison to help him rob Mr Dixon, who was described as a ‘frail’ and ‘vulnerable’ man.
Hopkinson, 30, and Dennison, 45, searched his home on Myrtle Street North for valuables, taking a 40-inch TV, a Playstation and further items in two bags.
While attempting to sell the stolen items, Hopkinson claimed Mr Dixon was a paedophile, adding: “He’s a nonce and he’ll get what is coming to him.”
The three addicts then left Mr Dixon to die, before arriving at Dean Murray’s home about a mile away and using his washing machine to try and get rid of forensic evidence from their clothes.
Fitzgerald, recruited for his muscle, gave Mr Dixon a “sustained, vicious and wholly gratuitous beating”, the court heard.
Mr Dixon, who had mental health problems and was a long time amphetamine user, lived alone and had more recently made friends with his next door neighbour.
Mr Dixon’s neighbour raised the alarm after finding his friend face down and covered in blood.
He told the neighbour about Hopkinson, who he said would regularly turn up at his home just before Mr Dixon’s benefits were paid.
Hopkinson would tell him that he had nowhere to go because his girlfriend had thrown him out, and they would share drugs purchased with the benefits.
The court heard Mr Dixon was ‘vulnerable to exploitation’.
Commenting on claims Mr Dixon was a paedophile, Judge Richard Mansell QC said this was a “scurrilous rumour” but it played a part in the “savage beating” he.
He added “It is perfectly clear to me that you (Hopkinson) regarded Raymond Dixon as a soft touch, someone who you could exploit by turning up at his flat around the time he was paid his benefits and consuming drugs purchased with his money.
“However, in your desperation for drugs, you went further and planned to rob him of everything of value in his home.”
He was jailed for life at Manchester Crown Court after admitting murdering Mr Dixon, 50.
Hopkinson, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 13 years after admitting manslaughter.
Dennison, of no fixed address, received a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to robbery, and Murray, 50, of Bury, was jailed for two years after admitting perverting the course of justice.
Fitzgerald, of Bury, was ordered to serve a minimum of 23 years of his life sentence.