Life sentence for killer who strangled elderly man to death in his Blackpool home

A Blackpool man has been sentenced to life in prison for strangling an elderly widower to death in his own home on New Year's Eve.

By Wes Holmes
Friday, 1st July 2022, 4:47 pm

Ian Dunne, 44, killed father of four Malcolm Frary, 76, at his Ecclestone Road address on between 5.50pm and 6.25pm on December 31 2021. He then stole Mr Frary's wallet, phone, car keys and car.

At a trial of issue at Preston Crown Court today (July 1), he admitted strangling Mr Frary, but denied his vicious attack was motivated by greed.

Instead, it was suggested that Dunne had taken the items in order to make Mr Frary's death look like a botched burglary attempt.

Police at the murder scene

Alex Leach QC, defending, said: "The Crown cannot prove there was cash contained in the wallet. If that is right... it is difficult to conclude that this was murder for gain."

An envelope containing £130 was found near Mr Frary's body, which he said would have been taken by Dunne if he was indeed motivated by monetary gain.

No attempts had been made to use Mr Frary's contactless bank card, and his car was abandoned nearby with the car keys inside.

Mr Leach said: "The way in which these items were disposed of showed no intelligence or care or forethought, and were driven by panic and desperation."

The prosecution, on behalf of Lancashire police, argued that Dunne committed the murder in order to steal from Mr Frary to fund his drug habit, as the pensioner had given him money in the past.

But Judge Robert Altham said: "This defendant clearly regarded Malcolm Frary as someone he could take advantage of. He made efforts to disrupt the scene and frustrate the investigation. These are significant aggravating factors - however, on the balance of evidence, I cannot be sure that this was a murder for gain."

The court heard that Dunne was the former partner of one of Mr Frary's neighbours, and that he had borrowed £165 from the pensioner in 2021.

On December 31, he texted his ex girlfriend saying he needed Mr Frary to drive him somewhere, as he often did, and the pair travelled to Eccleston Road together.

They arrived at Mr Frary's house at 5.47pm and went inside. Nearly 30 minutes later, Dunne was caught on CCTV driving off in Mr Frary's Vauxhall car.

It was during this time, the court heard, that Dunne murdered Mr Frary by strangling him with a cord taken from from his jogging bottoms.

Dunne then travelled to Ventnor Road, South Shore, where he parked the stolen car and set off on foot towards his friend's house on Horncliffe Road.

David Temkin QC, prosecuting, said: "It was at that stage the defendant began to dispose of items he knew would connect him to the murder he had just committed with the intention of misleading the police."

He threw the cord and Mr Frary's mobile phone over a fence onto the train tracks near Ventnor Road, and dropped his wallet and the gloves he had been wearing into a drain on Horncliffe Road.

Shortly after entering his friend's house, he left carrying the clothes he had been wearing at the time of the murder, which he threw over a fence onto a patch of wasteland.

On January 1, he drove Mr Frary's car to Woodstock Gardens, where he abandoned it.

He was arrested at his ex-girlfriend's house at 8.24pm on January 2, 24 hours after Mr Frary's body was discovered by his son, Ian Frary.

He initially denied all knowledge of the murder, but later told police that he acted in self defence after Mr Frary pushed him and put his hands around his neck.

Mr Temkin said: "That statement can be treated as a dishonest and misleading account. The defendant now accepts this was not self defence. He murdered Malcolm Frary by strangling him with a cord."

Dunne pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder - but changed his plea to guilty at the last minute on Wednesday, June 29.

Mr Temkin said: "Malcolm Frary lived alone. Some years ago he lost his wife, Jean. They had four children, three sons and one daughter.

"Malcolm Frary was described as kind, generous, friendly and considerate. He kept himself to himself although he did pursue his interest in model boats.

"His home suggests he was a well read man, whose shelves held many books and photos of his loved ones.

"He was an active man and enjoyed good health and he was not the kind of person who would be confrontational."

Mr Frary's daughter, Susan Frary, cried as a statement was read out describing how New Year's Eve will 'always be the day our dad was murdered' to her and her siblings.

She said: "Nothing could prepare us individually for this loss and we are absolutely devastated. He was a rock to us I think unobstructive way. He was there for guidance if and when we needed him. That rock within our family has now gone."

Dunne was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 19 years.

Judge Altham said: "Malcolm was a gentle, supportive father to all his children and it seems to all who met him. For such a gentle man to meet such a violent death has made the loss all the harder to bear.

"I know the effects on the family have been considerable. Apart from the loss of their father and the terrible shock, it would seem shockers have been sent through the family, and I know that no sentence that I can impose would equate to their loss, grief and feelings of devastation.

"At the time of the murder the defendant was a user of drugs. His partner had thrown him out because of the effects of his addiction.

"Malcolm and the defendant were known to each other and Malcolm was a kind gentleman who went out of his way to help other people. We know he loaned money to other people in order to help them. He also provided lifts to people he knew.

"In the weeks leading up to his death he loaned a modest amount of money to the defendant in particular. He also provided lifts apparently on demand, sometimes several times a day. There's no doubt that the defendant took advantage of Malcolm's accommodative and helpful nature."