Man jailed for killing his 90-year-old dad in row over £10

A man has been jailed for killing his 90-year-old father in a row over £10.

Michael Burns. Picture: PA Wire
Michael Burns. Picture: PA Wire

Michael Burns, 21, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to the manslaughter of William Burns.

Anya Horwood, prosecuting, told the court that the assault happened on March 24 when Mr Burns and his wife Diane, 58, returned to the family home in Netherton, Merseyside, after attending church.

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Mrs Burns, the defendant's mother, had called up to Burns in his bedroom, asking for £10 to buy food or cigarettes.

Burns shouted: "I'm sick of this, I'm always giving you money."

Ms Horwood said the defendant then came downstairs and ran towards his father, who was standing near the front door, with clenched fists.

She said: "He began to punch his father to the face and side of body."

The attack ended when Mrs Burns intervened, the court heard.

Ms Horwood said the family did not immediately seek treatment for Mr Burns, although he was seen by a doctor at home the following day.

Police were contacted by a neighbour who had concerns on March 27 and found Mr Burns slumped on the floor of the living room when they attended the property in Fatherside Drive.

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When Burns was arrested he told officers he had "just flipped" and admitted hitting his father on previous occasions, although none of them resulted in serious injury, the court heard.

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Ms Horwood said Mr Burns, who suffered fractures to his cheekbone, jaw, eye socket and ribs, was admitted to hospital but developed pneumonia and died on April 6.

Lloyd Morgan, defending, said Burns had autistic spectrum disorder.

He said: "He is a young man wracked with guilt, shame and horror that his actions have killed the father he loved and have caused his mother such pain and despair."

He added: "No matter what sentence is passed upon him today, he will be suffering a sentence for the rest of his life - the knowledge he took the life of his father."

The court heard that Mrs Burns had written a statement in which she spoke of the loss of her husband but also of her "heartbreak" at the thought of losing her son.

Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary QC said: "I recognise that your mother is desperate about the predicament in which you are now placed.

"I'm satisfied that you do not represent a significant risk to others in the future and are not therefore to be regarded as dangerous."

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But the judge said he could not "ignore the level of violence used" against Mr Burns, whom he described as "slight of build", "small" and "particularly frail".

The court heard that Burns, of Victoria Road in Salford, was now a father to a two-month-old child and had the support of his partner and wider family.

He shook in the dock as he awaited his sentence.

A number of family members in the public gallery were in tears as he was jailed.