Special report: Disturbing parallels between Ian Birley’s evil murders

John Gogarty
John Gogarty

The appalling murder of South Yorkshire pensioner John Gogarty this summer has disturbing parallels with another murder committed by one of his killers 20 years ago.

Ian Birley had been given a life sentence in 1996 for the 1995 murder of 69-year-old Maurice Hoyle in his Barnsley home.

Maurice Hoyle, Barnsley murder victim.

Maurice Hoyle, Barnsley murder victim.

But it can now be reported that he was let out of prison on licence in December 2013 - killing again in a similar manner just 18 months later.

An application was made by the prosecution at the start of the trial for the killing of Mr Gogarty to tell the jury about Birley’s previous murder conviction.

But the application was rejected by judge Mr Justice King after lawyers for Birley argued he would not receive a fair trial and that the murders had been committed in differing circumstances.

Mr Justice King said as it was not known what was said at the 1996 trial, it was ‘impossible’ for the prosecution to argue that the offences were ‘sufficiently similar to allow this application to succeed’.

Ian Birley has been found guilty of murdering John Gogarty

Ian Birley has been found guilty of murdering John Gogarty

But The Star’s reports from the time of the 1996 trial do reveal a substantial number of parallels between the two cases.

As in the case of Mr Gogarty, Mr Hoyle, who was also a man in his 60s, died in his own home after suffering a sustained attack from Birley.

As with Mr Gogarty, Birley then stole items from the house of Mr Hoyle - including a watch.

But while Mr Gogarty was killed in a premeditated attack as part of a robbery carried out so Birley could steal money to pay back a debt he owed to a Sheffield drug dealer for crack cocaine, the killing of Mr Hoyle appeared to be unplanned.

Reports show Sheffield Crown Court was told in 1996 that Mr Hoyle, who was gay, had invited Birley back to his home where they watched a pornographic video.

According to the prosecution in that case, they drank several whiskeys together before Mr Hoyle asked for a kiss.

Birley bludgeoned Mr Hoyle with a whiskey bottle before stamping on his head.

Mr Hoyle suffered 42 external injuries in the horrifying attack, including a fractured nose, cheek bones and eye sockets.

He died as a result of his dentures being broken and a piece becoming lodged in his windpipe.

Birley pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of provocation but denied murder, telling the jury he feared Mr Hoyle was going to rape him.

He admitted during his evidence being in a ‘frenzy’ as he carried out the killing.

“I snapped and lost control and kicked him in the face a lot of times,” he said.

The jury found him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to life.

Graham Reeds QC, the prosecutor in the John Gogarty murder trial, said it was extremely unusual for a murderer to stand trial for a second killing.

“It is an extremely rare event for a person who has been convicted of murder to be on trial for murder,” he said.