Detectives were today working with crown prosecutors over whether to change a charge of grievous bodily harm to murder following the tragic death of dad-of-two Dean Armitage.
The 49-year-old haulage company boss lost his fight for life almost three weeks after sustaining major head injuries in a confrontation on the driveway of his South Yorkshire home.
Mr Armitage battled life threatening head wounds in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield for 20 days after being injured in the early hours of the morning at around 3.15am on Sunday, July 21.
It is believed Mr Armitage was hurt as he tried to tackle a man attempting to break into his Land Rover on the driveway of his home on Skiers View Road, Hoyland, Barnsley.
A 33-year-old man - David Matthew Sindall, of Eastwood, Rotherham - was arrested and charged originally with one count of burglary and a charge of grievous bodily harm.
Police say the GBH charge is expected to be changed to murder or manslaughter in the coming days.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “The assault charge is now expected to be changed to murder or manslaughter as the investigating officers liaise with the Crown Prosecution Service.”
Neighbours said the news Mr Armitage died on Friday had shocked the quiet street where he lived with wife Mandy and their family.
Angie Bell, 49, told The Star: “My daughter knows their daughter - they are just a lovely family. I think everybody is in shock about what has happened.
“You know this kind of thing does happen, you see it on the news, but when it is somebody you know it is a bit different.
“We feel so sorry for his wife and children.”
John Clark, 67, said: “It has really been extremely sad. I have been living here for 35 years and nothing like this has ever happened before.
“I didn’t know Dean personally but he appeared to be a nice family man. It must be one hell of a shock.”
Neighbours who were woken by noises on July 21 said they believed a suspect had climbed into Mr Armitage’s home and stolen the keys to his Land Rover from the kitchen.
Mr Armitage is thought to have heard the sound of his car being started, and gone outside to investigate.
His niece Shelby Etherington, 18, said at the time: “He doesn’t deserve this. The family are at his side at the hospital. We are all just praying he will be okay.”
David Matthew Sindall appeared most recently at Sheffield Crown Court only last Friday, when he was remanded in custody until Friday, October 25.