Men jailed for Burntwood gun murder


Two men were today jailed for life for the brutal murder of a Burntwood father who was shot dead in bed.

Richard Deakin (27) was killed at his Meadway Street home when a masked gunman walked into his bedroom shortly after his fiancee and children left for school on Monday 5 July 2010.

The gunman, David Harrison, and the driver of the getaway car, Darryl Dickens, were today convicted of murder, which they denied, and jailed for life following a six-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court. Harrison was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 37 years and Dickens was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 30 years.

They were arrested and charged as part of a complex inquiry by detectives from Staffordshire Police's Major Investigation Department.

CCTV showed that, on the day of the murder, Harrison and Dickens arrived at Mr Deakin's house at around 8.30am. Harrison, armed with a sawn-off shotgun, walked through the garden gate, into the house and shot his victim in the chest and leg before leaving. Mr Deakin, whose body was found by police after local residents raised the alarm, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Harrison (62), of Rainbow Street, Bilston, and Dickens (34), of Powell Place, Bilston, dumped the car, a stolen black Vauxhall Corsa, in the entrance to a field a short distance away in Coppy Nook Lane, Burntwood.

The court heard that, minutes before the murder, Richard's partner Megan saw the Corsa drive by their house as she was putting their daughters - Elle (aged four at the time but now aged six) and Jessica (aged two at the time but now aged five) - in the car to go to school. Twelve months later, following Dickens' arrest, she attended an ID parade and picked out Dickens as the driver.

Detective Chief Inspector Darren Harding, who led the investigation, said: "Richard's killers were cold-blooded and calculated. He was shot as he lay in bed, just moments after his two young daughters and partner said goodbye to him.

"Richard's family saw their lives change in a devastating instant, causing them an incalculable amount of pain. Specially trained officers have offered them support throughout this lengthy investigation.

"It's very unusual for such a shocking, brutal murder to happen in Staffordshire. Although Richard was killed in Burntwood, it soon became clear that the key to his death lay in the West Midlands.

"Working closely with colleagues at West Midlands Police, our detectives spent 18 months carefully piecing together evidence about the murder. It was a difficult, complex investigation, with many twists and turns.

"This led us to David Harrison and Darryl Dickens who, it was shown at court, carried out the murder following weeks of planning. The strength of the evidence gathered against them led to their conviction and life imprisonment.

"These men deprived two girls of their father and left a massive hole in his family's lives. Our thoughts remain with Richard's family today."

Anamarie Coomansingh, Complex Casework Lawyer from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit, added: "This has been an important prosecution where a professional hit man and his driver have been convicted of a cold and calculating murder depriving two very young children of their father. Richard Deakin was also a much loved partner, son and brother and our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."