Sandbach man, 84, beat neighbour to death and fled on mobility scooter

An 84-year-old man used a spade to beat his neighbour to death before fleeing the scene on an electric scooter.

Police said Thomas Dunn had carefully planned to attack Royston Costello at the Cheshire sheltered housing complex.

Mr Costello, 60, died after sustaining serious head injuries in the attack in February, at Oakdene Court, Sandbach.

Dunn had a grudge against Mr Costello and tempers flared after the victim got a new car under a mobility scheme that had got scratched.

Dunn, of Oakdene Court, had admitted murder, and at Chester Crown Court he was jailed for life, with a minimum tariff of 17 years and six months.

In the months before the attack, Dunn had complained Mr Costello had been breaking the rules at the housing complex, including making noises and letting his dog off its lead, police said.

Before his death, Mr Costello had denied the claims against him.

Things had come to a head when Mr Costello confronted the defendant after discovering his car had been scratched - something he reported to police.

The following day, Dunn took a spade from a neighbour's shed, waited until Mr Costello's wife had gone out, and struck him from behind as he slept on the sofa.

Mr Costello was struck three times, sustaining fatal head injuries, said police.

He underwent emergency brain surgery and remained in critical care, partially paralysed and unable to speak, before dying on 20 April.

Dunn had originally been charged with a Section 18 assault, but the charge became one of murder following Mr Costello's death.

'Gentle giant'

The attack was quickly reported to police and officers soon identified Dunn as the main suspect, before tracking him at about 14:45 GMT at a nursing home, on Lacey Green, Wilmslow.

"Dunn's actions that day were horrific. From the moment he awoke, he was intent on causing harm to Mr Costello," said Det Insp David Hutcheon.

He said Mr Costello's wife had lost her loving husband, two children had lost their dad and six grandchildren had lost their caring grandad.

Mr Costello's wife described her husband of 23 years, as "a gentle giant" who would always help anyone.

"Roy being taken the way he was by a neighbour, who can only be described as an evil coward, is something I will never get over," she said.

"I promise you that not a day will go by when I will not think of you. You will always be with me in my heart and soul, but for now, RIP my darling until we meet again."

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