John Gogarty murder trial: Defendant ‘didn’t know’ co-accused would kill Barnsley pensioner

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A suspect accused of playing a role in the murder of a South Yorkshire pensioner said she didn’t think her co-accused would kill the victim during a robbery.

Murder accused Helen Nichols told a jury at Sheffield Crown Court she ‘didn’t know’ alleged accomplice Ian Birley had a knife on him during a planned robbery of John Gogarty, aged 65.

The Irish property developer, nicknamed ‘Paddy’, died in his home in Wombwell, Barnsley, on July 13 after being stabbed 69 times.

His body was discovered four days later by a family member.

Andrew O’Byrne, for Nichols, asked if she knew about the plans to kill.

She admitted she knew Birley planned to rob the pensioner and told the court: “He said a few days before it happened something like, ‘that Paddy needs robbing, he carries too much money on him.’

“He said it a few times but I didn’t think he would actually go through with it.”

Nichols accepted she went with Birley to Mr Gogarty’s home but ‘didn’t know Birley had a knife on him.’ She told the court Birley stabbed Mr Gogarty in the back, saying: “Where’s your cash? Give me your card.”

Nichols said she was ordered to get cash from an ATM but when she returned she said she found Birley knelt next to the victim, repeatedly stabbing him.

She said: “I couldn’t move, I was frozen to the spot. I just kept looking at the body. He was already dead.”

The court previously heard that Nichols stayed with Birley for 10 days after the murder.

Mr O’Bryne asked Nichols why she didn’t call 999.

“I was scared of Birley, I didn’t know what he might do next,” she said.

It is the prosecution’s case that the £500 stolen was to pay back a Sheffield drug dealer from whom Birley had bought crack cocaine.

Birley, 43, and Nichols, 38, both of Mont Walk, Wombwell, deny murder.

The trial continues.