Charge dropped in murder case

Police, CSI and Scientific Support vehicles on Regent Road, Blackpool, close to where  James Whitelaw was found injured and (below) Judge Anthony Russell.
Police, CSI and Scientific Support vehicles on Regent Road, Blackpool, close to where James Whitelaw was found injured and (below) Judge Anthony Russell.
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A man walked out of court after having a murder charge against him dropped.

Jack Tindall spent four and a half months in custody after being accused of murdering 46-year-old James Whitelaw in Blackpool last year.

Judge Anthony Russell QC

Judge Anthony Russell QC

The 21-year-old, from Bedford Road, North Shore, had the charges against him dropped yesterday after the prosecution at Preston Crown Court revealed medical evidence made it “implausible” Tindall was responsible for Mr Whitelaw’s death.

But Tindall has admitted attacking Mr Whitelaw three days before he was found slumped in an alleyway behind Regent Road on November 23 last year.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of wounding and was released by Judge Anthony Russell on bail – but will return to be sentenced for that crime on June 10.

Michael Hayton, prosecuting, said Tindall had been charged with murder after an eyewitness, who was heavily under the influence of drink and drugs, saw him punch Mr Whitelaw.

When he was interviewed by police, Tindall admitted there had been an incident.

And although the murder charge against him has been dropped Judge Russell told Tindall the court viewed street violence “seriously”.

Tindall was told he was unlikely to get a custodial sentence because of the amount of time he has already served, but Judge Russell said: “Offences of violence are unpleasant offences, particularly in the street and they are viewed seriously by the court.”

Mr Whitelaw, who was originally from Glasgow but was living on the Grange Park estate, was found unconscious and with serious head injuries in an alleyway behind Regent Road at around 10pm on November 23.

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital but died from his injuries in the early hours of November 28.

A Home Office postmortem examination revealed Mr Whitelaw died of blunt force trauma to the head.

A 21-year-old man and two 22-year-olds were initially arrested and questioned at Blackpool’s Bonny Street police station.

Residents of Regent Street spoke of their shock after Mr Whitelaw was discovered.

One resident, who has lived on the street for 24 years but did not want to be named, told The Gazette: “It’s not the first time something like this has happened.

“It’s not unique and it goes on all over the place but I just think it’s sad really.

“You don’t really have a community feel any more.”

• A 43-year-old Blackpool man is charged with murdering Mr Whitelaw and will appear before crown court next month.

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A “Wake-up call” for 21-year-old accused

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Jack Tindall’s defence barrister said today the prospect of a life sentence had been a “wake-up call” for the 21-year-old, who has admitted an offence of wounding after his murder charge was dropped.
Brian Williams, who represented Tindall told Preston Crown Court: “There can perhaps be no better wake up call for a person who has committed an offence of violence, than facing the possibility of a life sentence.
“The defendant has found the past four to five months especially difficult.”

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