Bury murder: Career criminal jailed for Raymond Dixon death

Raymond Dixon Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption The court heard Raymond Dixon struggled with various mental health problems

A career criminal has been jailed for life after being convicted of beating a man to death who he wrongly believed was a "nonce".

Edward Fitzgerald was recruited by Lee Hopkinson as part of a plan to rob Raymond Dixon in his own home in Bury.

Mr Dixon was repeatedly kicked and punched by Fitzgerald, who admitted murdering the 50-year-old.

He was jailed at Manchester Crown Court for a minimum of 22 years and Hopkinson was given 13 years for manslaughter.

The third member of the group Anthony Dennison, 45, of no fixed address, was convicted of robbery and jailed for five years.

A fourth man, Dean Murray, 50, of Bury, was sentenced to two years in prison for perverting the course of justice.

Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption Edward Fitzgerald (left) and Lee Hopkinson (right) had committed more than 200 offences between them before Raymond Dixon's murder

The court heard Hopkinson, 30, of no fixed address, befriended Mr Dixon and saw him as a "soft touch".

The pair took amphetamines together, but fell out over drug debts and the night before the murder Hopkinson was overheard saying Mr Dixon was a "nonce" and was "going get what is coming to him".

Judge Richard Mansell QC said this was a "scurrilous rumour" but that it played a part in the "savage beating" Mr Dixon suffered.

He added: "You recruited your co-accused to rob Raymond Dixon in his own home on Myrtle Street.

"This was on any view a cowardly plan to rob a vulnerable man in his own home of what precious little of value he owned. Raymond Dixon will have opened the door to you Hopkinson because he knew you.

"What then happened was that you Fitzgerald launched a sustained, vicious and wholly gratuitous beating of Raymond Dixon, whilst you Hopkinson set about cleaning him out of his valuable property and you Dennison assisted him."

'Trusted everyone'

After the attack, the trio left Mr Dixon for dead and went to Murray's house to wash their "blood-stained clothes".

In a victim impact statement, Mr Dixon's mother Violet Harrington said the murder had been "traumatic" for her.

She said: "I have very mixed emotions about what has happened and mainly anger. I know Raymond wasn't an angel, but he had a good heart.

"Not many trusted him, but he trusted everyone.

"Raymond wasn't a good judge of character and people took advantage of him."

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