Man who killed Good Samaritan found guilty of murder

09/12/2015

A man who killed a Good Samaritan who tried to protect a baby caught up in a row between him and a woman has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Alison Wilson, 36, tried to intervene in a row between Stephen Duggan and a woman, late on Saturday 7 March 2015 in Frank Street, Widnes. Ms Wilson, a mother of two, had been travelling home with her partner Anthony Tomlinson from a night out when they stopped off to collect some food from a nearby takeaway.

They spotted a woman holding a baby in a carry cot which was described as "swinging everywhere" and they saw that she was arguing with Duggan. Mr Tomlinson was concerned about the safety of the baby and asked the taxi driver to stop and Ms Wilson got out to help the woman. She was said to have approached them with her hands up and her palms open, in a pacifying manner.

Mr Tomlinson also got out but Duggan, 28, then ran towards him with a bottle in his hand. The next thing Mr Tomlinson remembered was waking up in the road and seeing Ms Wilson holding her neck and that there was blood everywhere. It's thought that Duggan had attacked Ms Wilson with a broken bottle, causing fatal injuries to her neck. Mr Tomlinson rang for an ambulance and Ms Wilson was taken to hospital but she died later from her injuries.

Mr Tomlinson suffered serious injuries to his face in the attack. The woman who had been holding the baby suffered a black eye after being punched by Duggan. When the police arrived, the woman and Duggan had left. He was later spotted by police on a bike in Milton Road in Widnes and arrested.

Duggan had been drinking at his father's house in Frank Street for several hours before the incident, but denied he was drunk, although he told police that he remembered very little of the incident. The court was told that he and his father had been having "a catch up" and that they were celebrating as Duggan had just got a new job.

Duggan had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, wounding Mr Tomlinson without intent and assaulting the other woman by punching her. But the jury rejected this and found him guilty after a trial of murdering Ms Wilson and of the more serious, wounding Mr Tomlinson with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The judge, Mr Justice Holroyde, said these were "very grave offences" committed against two "decent and public spirited" people. He said Duggan must serve at least 22 years in jail before he can be considered for parole.

Richard Riley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, has worked on the case from the beginning. He said: "This is a very sad case of a caring couple who tried to go to the defence of a woman and her baby, with tragic results. Mr Tomlinson even went back to pay the taxi driver after he'd got out, as the driver said he needed to move as he was blocking the road.

"Ms Wilson had made it clear to Duggan that she didn't mean to harm him when she intervened - she just wanted to protect the baby and the woman. For that act of kindness she lost her life and her partner, Mr Tomlinson, suffered serious injuries.

"Duggan may well have been shocked by his own actions but that is of little comfort to the victims in this awful episode. His violent temper, no doubt fuelled by drink, has resulted in the death of a woman who simply tried to help and her family have to live with that knowledge."