John Gogarty murder trial: Defendant says girlfriend named him as killer ‘to save her own skin’

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A man accused of murdering South Yorkshire pensioner John Gogarty has said his girlfriend named him as the killer to ‘save her own skin’.

Defendant Ian Birley also told a jury at Sheffield Crown Court he could not remember where he was at the time of the murder.

Crime scene investigation officers at the house in Marsh Street, Wombwell where John Gogarty was murdered over the weekend'Picture Dean Atkins

Crime scene investigation officers at the house in Marsh Street, Wombwell where John Gogarty was murdered over the weekend'Picture Dean Atkins

Mr Gogarty, a 65-year-old property developer, died in his home in Wombwell on July 13 after being stabbed 69 times.

It is the prosecution’s case that Mr Gogarty was murdered by Birley and his girlfriend Helen Nichols, who jointly robbed him of £500 to pay back a debt to a Sheffield drugs dealer.

The court has previously heard that Nichols accepts she was at the scene but says she played no part in the murder, which she says was committed by Birley.

Giving evidence to the jury in his defence yesterday, Birley, 43, of Mont Walk, Wombwell, said he had nothing to do with the killing and had not been there.

Asked why Nichols had said he was involved, Birley said: “Maybe she has seen an easy target to blame. She has done it to save her own skin. It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there at all.”

Birley said a man shown on CCTV walking alongside Nichols to Mr Gogarty’s house and then leaving the scene that night was not him and must have been another person Nichols knew.

He said he couldn’t identify who the other person could be, as Nichols had ‘a lot of male friends’.

Birley said he couldn’t recall where he was at the time of the murder.

He said: “My mum asked me where I was. I told her I was probably sat on the settee waiting for Emmerdale to come on. But she said ‘You hadn’t got a settee at that time’. So I don’t know.”

Birley accepted he had told a number of people that he owed £500 to a Sheffield drug dealer and had asked to borrow money. But he said the debt was actually money that Nichols owed, due to her habit of using crack cocaine and heroin. He accepted he also used both drugs.

He said he had not told anyone he was going to commit a robbery to get the money he needed. Birley said watches belonging to Mr Gogarty that he had tried to sell or give away were given to him by Nichols after she said she got them from her grandmother.

He accepted that a t-shirt with Mr Gogarty’s blood on found in his flat belonged to him, but said it had last been worn by Nichols. The trial continues.