Robbery victim died of brain tumour six months after attack in Blackpool flat, trial hears

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court

A brain tumour patient died just six months after a  vicious robbery in his own home, a court has heard.

Vulnerable Christopher Caesar, 36, who was undergoing chemotherapy to try and halt the inoperable tumour, suffered a bleed on his brain during the attack which was too close to the cancer for doctors to operate, Preston Crown Court heard.

His death was deemed to be natural causes - but prosecutors say his ordeal meant his last few months of life were affected.

Mr Caesar, who was diagnosed in 2009, was threatened with a screwdriver, struck with a claw hammer, and was knocked out when one of the men punched him.

His friend James Innocent, 23, who was staying at his flat, was also threatened and hit during the 30 minute ordeal, the court was told, and alleges when he told the attackers about his friend's brain tumour they "laughed".

The men, who were known to Mr Innocent, demanded money and threatened to "kneecap" them.

Mr Caesar was taken by ambulance to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with no mobility in his left arm and left leg.

Medics found a brain haemorrhage and swelling to be the reason, and also found broken bones in his nose and cheeks.

Jonathan Johnstone, 22, of Bowland Crescent, Grange Park, Blackpool, and Dale Docherty, 22, of Dinmore Place, Blackpool, have admitted robbery.

A third, Adam Shuttleworth, 21, of Lonsdale Road, Blackpool, is on trial at Preston Crown Court where he denies conspiring with the two men to carry out the raid at Mr Caesar's flat on Withnell Road on October 15, 2016.

It is alleged he stood guard outside as the robbery happened.

Jurors were read a statement the victim made before his death in which he said he had met his attackers briefly through his friend a month earlier.

He said: " On October 14 I was in my flat. James had been at work and just after teatime he came round.

"I'd just had Sky installed so we ended up staying up and watching TV all night. At 5am I realised he was asleep so decided to go to bed.

" I went into my bedroom and went to sleep almost instantly. Some time later I woke up to some noise sounding like a door being kicked in.

"I was still in bed when Dale came into my room. He said: "Oi you, get up. " I was worried as he sounded very aggressive.

"I walked into the living room, I saw Jonny sat down on the couch near the door and he had a small hammer in his hand.

"James was sat next to Jonny. Dale ordered me to sit on the other couch. I sat down because I just wanted to go along with it.

"I'd heard about Jonny and heard he had been really violent in the past."

He said Johnstone demanded £400 in "cash or weed" otherwise everyone would be "kneecapped".

He added he woke in his bedroom with blood pouring down his nose, and couldn't move his left arm or leg."

Prosecuting, Bob Golinski said: "Mr Caesar was found to have died of natural causes. We do not say the robbery caused his death.

"However, we do say that robbery meant the end of his life was not what it otherwise would have been."

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