The father of a missing Blackpool schoolgirl was murdered during a “petty” argument over a £20 note, a jury was told.
Preston Crown Court heard Frank Chivers collapsed from a bleed on his brain after being attacked by Sean Conlon in his 15th floor flat at Walter Robinson Court, Layton.
The jury was told that despite the best efforts of medics at Blackpool Victoria Hospital Mr Chivers – the father of 15-year-old Paige who has been missing since 2007 – died a short time later.
Conlon, 46, of no fixed address denies murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.
Chivers, in August last year and has also pleaded not guilty to an alternative charge of manslaughter.
The court heard that Mr Chivers, 49, who his family say never got over the disappearance of his daughter, had been addicted to illegal drugs, particularly heroin.
Prosecutor Michael Hayton QC, told the court: “The cause of death is laid at the door of the defendant and was a petty argument about a trifling some of money Sean Conlon says had been taken from his girlfriend.
The jury were told Mr Chivers , 49, would spent much of his time with other people with similar problems.
“He had a close friend, Sharon Garnett, and they had been living together as friends for a number of weeks. Mr Chivers, who was also known as Franny, called her ‘little sis’.”
They were looking for accommodation to move into as friends. He was in the process at the time of moving things out of his flat and putting them in storage.
He had arranged to stay with his mother in the Bispham area. Sharon Garnett had arranged to stay with another friend on Camden Road.
The jury were told Conlon and his girlfriend also lived around the same area.
The prosecution described Conlon as a “frightening man, no stranger to courts and the sort of man you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of.”
Mr Hayton said “The two present as a rather unpleasant and bullying couple, picking on those perhaps less forthright. Mr Chivers, to an extent, was one of them. He wasn’t alone.”
The day after Mr Chivers’ death the pair turned up at a woman’s home on Camden Road, saying they only needed to stay the night, but stayed the rest of the week.
Mr Hayton said that Carly Turner, Conlon’s girlfiend went on to give a statement to the Police, during the early stages of the investigation, that “sought to distance or minimise Conlon’s possible involvement, certainly any involvement in relation to an assault regarding Mr Chivers.”
He added: “She recently pleaded guilty to an offence of attempting to pervert the court of justice, accepting by her plea she had not told the whole truth in an attempt to assist.”
On the weekend of August 10 and 11 last year, Conlon had gone to Mr Chivers’ flat having been out the previous night with Carly Turner.
The court heard the defendant was said to have been annoyed at having earlier gone home without his partner.
She went on to complain about a £20 note being missing from her purse.
The prosecution said Conlon then turned his anger towards Mr Chivers and his friend Sharon Garnett, accusing them of taking the money.
Mr Chivers placed some money on a table, saying “take it”, but didn’t make any admission. Conlon continued to be vocal and aggressive.
The court heard the two men ended up alone in the flat and Conlon could be heard shouting towards what the prosecution say must have been Frank Chivers.
He was saying words like “It must be one of you two”. Mr Chivers was effectively pleading that it was nothing to do with him.
Mr Chivers went on to be seen lying unconscious in the living room. Conlon was stood in the room.
The defendant left around the time the emergency services came.
In a taped 999 call, Sharon Garnett was being directed by an operator on how to do resuscitation. The defendant was later to tell police in interview that he knew the CPR technique.
Mr Hayton has said the prosecution will call medical evidence to say that Mr Chivers’ injury was caused as a result of a twisting motion to his neck.
The prosecution allege that was caused by a kick to the face, the force of it turning his head, rupturing a blood vessel.
However, Conlon suggested to police that someone else was responsible for the death.
Mr Hayton added “It might be suggested that there had been no such blow at all to the head to cause a twisting motion and that Mr Chivers spontaneously collapsed due to natural causes.”
The trial continues and is due to last at least a week.
The police case into former Montgomery High School pupil Paige’s disappearance is still officially open.
She went missing just months after her mum Shelia died, after an argument with her dad.
She was last seen boarding the number 11 bus on Ashfield Road,near to her family home in Bispham, on August 23, 2007.
Now 21, her family have put out numerous appeals through the media since she vanished after packing a suitcase and leaving her home on Longford Avenue.
Detectives originally treated her disappearance as a missing persons case,until eventually upgrading to a murder investigation in December 2009.