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Two men jailed for life after murdering Burntwood dad in his own home

Two men have been jailed for life after shooting dead a Burntwood in his own bed.

Richard Deakin, 27, was killed at his Meadway Street home when a masked gunman walked into his bedroom shortly after his fiancée and children left for school in July 2010.

Darryl Dickens and David Harrison

Darryl Dickens and David Harrison

The gunman, 62-year-old David Harrison, of Rainbow Street, Bilston, and the driver of the getaway car, Darryl Dickens, 34 and from Powell Place, Bilston  were convicted of murder and jailed for life following a six-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Harrison was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 37 years and Dickens was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 30 years.

CCTV showed that, on the day of the murder, the pair arrived at Mr Deakin’s house at around 8.30am. Harrison, armed with a sawn-off shotgun, walked through the garden gate, into the house and shot his victim in the chest and leg before leaving.

The killers then dumped the car, a stolen black Vauxhall Corsa, in the entrance to a field on Coppy Nook Lane.

The court heard that, minutes before the murder, Richard’s partner Megan saw the vehicle drive by their house as she was putting their daughters – Elle, aged four at the time – and Jessica – then aged two – in the car to go to school. Twelve months later she attended an ID parade and picked out Dickens as the driver.

Other key pieces of evidence put before the jury included:

  • Five months after the murder, CCTV footage was shown on BBC’s Crimewatch. As a result, one of Harrison’s associates contacted police and identified him as the gunman.
  • Examination of mobile phone records showed that Harrison was at or near the murder scene on three mornings in the weeks before the murder – demonstrating that ‘reccies’ were carried out prior to the crime.
  • Following Harrison’s arrest in June 2011, at his second home in Folkestone, officers found a bag containing a wig and masks and £26,000 in bank notes. Most of the bank bands around the notes were dated within two weeks of the murder – indicating that he was paid for the killing shortly after it happened.
  • A witness reported that the gunman was wearing blue surgical gloves on the day of the murder. A box of such gloves was found in Harrison’s van after his arrest.
  • In another search of Harrison’s Bilston home, officers found a newspaper cutting about the murder.
  • Harrison had previous convictions for violent crime, was seen with firearms and had been involved in planning other shootings.
Richard Deakin

Richard Deakin

Detective Chief Inspector Darren Harding, who led the investigation, said: “Richard’s killers were cold-blooded and calculated. He was shot as he lay in bed, just moments after his two young daughters and partner said goodbye to him.

“Richard’s family saw their lives change in a devastating instant, causing them an incalculable amount of pain. Specially-trained officers have offered them support throughout this lengthy investigation.

“It’s very unusual for such a shocking, brutal murder to happen in Staffordshire. Although Richard was killed in Burntwood, it soon became clear that the key to his death lay in the West Midlands.

“Working closely with colleagues at West Midlands Police, our detectives spent 18 months carefully piecing together evidence about the murder. It was a difficult, complex investigation, with many twists and turns.

“This led us to David Harrison and Darryl Dickens who, it was shown at court, carried out the murder following weeks of planning. The strength of the evidence gathered against them led to their conviction and life imprisonment.

“These men deprived two girls of their father and left a massive hole in his family’s lives.

“Our thoughts remain with Richard’s family today.”

Anamarie Coomansingh, from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service’s Complex Casework Unit, added: “This has been an important prosecution where a professional hitman and his driver have been convicted of a cold and calculating murder depriving two very young children of their father.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.