Delivery driver, 70, dies on birthday after Ashton-under-Lyne robbery

James Ray Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption James Ray suffered serious head injuries while unloading washing powder from his van

A delivery driver has died on his 70th birthday following a suspected car-jacking during a drop-off at a laundry.

James Ray suffered serious head injuries after either being pushed or falling while unloading washing powder from his van.

The robbery happened at Plantation Industrial Estate in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, on Thursday.

Two men, aged 23 and 44, have been arrested on suspicion of murder while a third man is being sought.

'Abhorrent act'

Police said it was possible the attack may have been "a robbery gone wrong".

Mr Ray, a grandfather-of-four from Easingwold near York, died in hospital on Friday.

He had been working part-time for the family firm, based in Tockwith, York, driving a van delivering supplies to the cleaning industry.

He suffered an "massive" injury to the back of his head and died at about 05:30 GMT following the robbery at about 11:30 the previous day, police said.

Mr Ray was left on the floor in the yard at the premises and spotted by a member of the public.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Police responded to a report of a serious assault at Plantation Industrial Estate in Ashton-under-Lyne

The grey transit van was later found abandoned in Clarence Street, Stalybridge. There was nothing of value in the vehicle at the time, police said.

Another car involved in the robbery was found in the Heywood area earlier.

Mr Ray was on his only delivery of the day. Police are still trying to recover CCTV of the area.

Mr Ray was due to celebrate his birthday with wife Vivian, son Adrian, daughter Catherine and other relatives.

In a statement his family said: "We are completely and utterly devastated by the death of James who was killed on the very day of his birthday.

"He has left behind his wife, a son, a daughter and four grandchildren who are stunned by this abhorrent act of violence."

Det Supt Jonathan Chadwick said: "They are devastated, that's the only word you can use, instead of celebrating his birthday they are going to have to start to plan his funeral.

"It is possible that this may be a robbery that has gone wrong however that doesn't change the fact that a man has been killed and I would urge anybody with information to please contact the police as soon as possible."

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