Murder trial jury hears Calderdale man suffered fractured skull and brain injury during attempted robbery

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

A 58-year-old man died in hospital nearly eight weeks after he was allegedly attacked during an attempted robbery close to his home in Sowerby Bridge.

Paul Bell had been returning to his flat after a Sunday night out with a friend in September last year when he was allegedly confronted by knife-carrying Nicholas Gill, 21, in the Old Cawsey area of the town.

A murder trial jury heard today (Mon) that Gill is said to have thrust a knife towards Mr Bell and demanded his money before punching and kicking him during the attack.

Prosecutor Patrick Palmer said the jury at Bradford Crown Court would hear how Mr Bell suffered a fractured skull and a brain injury after he fell backwards hitting his head.

Mr Bell also suffered fractured ribs, black eyes and fractures around his nose, but despite his injuries he was assisted back to his nearby flat by two members of the public who found him lying on the cobbled street.

Mr Palmer explained how Mr Bell said that he had been approached by a man aged about 20 who had come at him with a knife.

When a paramedic arrived at the flat Mr Bell insisted he was fine and didn’t need to go to hospital.

He also said that he could handle himself and had “seen off” the would-be robber.

When police officers arrived Mr Bell told them he had “fallen over” during the incident.

Gill, of Hollins Lane, Sowerby Bridge, was arrested over the attempted robbery the next day and police officers found a small knife in his shoulder bag.

He told police:”I don’t go out robbing. I’m innocent.”

But Mr Palmer said forensic examination of Gill’s clothing and trainers revealed traces of Mr Bell’s blood and DNA.

He said Mr Bell spent 54 days in hospital following the alleged attack and despite the efforts of staff to save his life he succumbed to complications and infections on November 23 last year.

During Gill’s initial police interviews about the attempted robbery he denied following Mr Bell down the road before the attack.

He admitted carrying a knife because he said he got “paranoid”, but said he had no idea how Mr Bell suffered his injuries.

After Mr Bell died Gill was arrested again for murder and during an interview he said he couldn’t explain how the deceased’s blood had got on his hoodie and trainer.

During questioning Gill admitted he had approached Mr Bell to ask the time, but he claimed the deceased swung a wine bottle at him.

He suggested that Mr Bell has been drunk and when he gave him “a little push” he lost his balance and fell.

Gill was asked if he was responsible for Mr Bell’s death and he replied:”In a way yeah and in a way no. I just pushed him back and he lost his balance.”

Gill has denied the murder charge and further allegations of attempted robbery and possessing an offensive weapon.

The trial is expected to last about five days.