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Wigan man sentenced to life for lodger's murder five years after knife attack


A 44 year old man from Wigan, has been sentenced to life imprisonment and must serve a minimum of 19 years for murder after a man he attacked with a knife died from the effects of his injuries almost five years later.

In 2008 John Berry was convicted after a trial of wounding his lodger Dean Owen on 21st May 2007 at the flat they shared in Orrell, near Wigan.  In 2014 he was charged with murder following Mr Owen's death in Wigan Hospital on 19 May 2012.

Mr Owen suffered a large, deep stab wound to his abdomen during the assault.  Expert medical evidence showed that medical complications linked to the serious injury caused his death.  A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found John Berry guilty of murder within an hour of retiring to consider their verdict.

John Berry attacked Dean Owen on the evening of 21st May 2007.  Berry had returned home and became angry with the victim because of his behaviour and after arming himself with a machete and a large kitchen knife he stabbed him causing two wounds, one of which was very serious.  Dean Owen called 999 and was taken to hospital by ambulance where he received emergency surgery and remained in hospital for several months.  Between 2007 and 2012 he spent a great deal of time in and out of hospital.  He underwent a number of operations and over the years had a considerable amount of medical treatment.

A post-mortem concluded that the cause of death was septicaemia caused by complications from his ongoing medical condition as a result of the original stab wound and the necessary surgery in 2007.

Ben Southam, Deputy Head of the Complex Casework Unit, CPS North West, said:

"The stab wound that John Berry inflicted on Dean Owen was a life-threatening and life-altering injury.  From the day that he received the serious injury until the day that he died, Dean Owen was never free from the great damage that it caused him.  It affected him on a daily basis and his quality of life suffered a great deal.

"John Berry stabbed Dean Owen in the stomach with considerable force.  He intended at the time either to kill him or at least cause him really serious harm and this stab wound eventually lead to Dean's death.  After an earlier trial before Dean died John Berry was found guilty of wounding with intent, but murder is of course a much more serious offence and he will now serve a further prison sentence for that crime.

"Dean Owen suffered many difficulties and eventually lost his life because of the devastating injury inflicted by John Berry, and I am pleased that justice has been served today for Dean and his family.  My sympathies and thoughts remain with them.  I am also grateful to the jury for their close attention to the complex medical evidence during the trial."

In sentencing John Berry the Judge ordered that he serve the minimum tariff of 19 years minus 6 years, 2 months and 20 days he has already served in custody, as a result of the sentence imposed for the wounding offence.


Notes to Editors

  1. John Berry was previously convicted in 2008 of section 18 wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.  He was sentenced to 8 years in prison and served 4 years.
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