A CALLOUS thief who planned to rob a man he had only just met of his valuable Rolex watch and recruited strangers to help him has been found guilty of killing his victim.

At Manchester Crown Court a jury unanimously found 30-year-old Lewis Peake, of James Street, Little Lever, guilty of the manslaughter of 34-year-old Steven McMyler and conspiring to rob him.

His three co-accused, Michael Wilson, aged 20, of Northfield Close, Kirkby, a 17-year-old youth and a 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were convicted of the same offences.

The jury was unanimous in their decisions apart from the 17-year-old, who was found guilty of both offences by a majority.

The four will be sentenced on June 11 following pre-sentence reports prepared on the three youngest defendants.

During a three-and-a-half week trial the court heard how, after meeting a drunken Mr McMyler in a Wigan street on August 6 last year, and learning he had an £11,000 watch, Peake became desperate to find people to help him commit a robbery.

He first approached schoolboys, offering them £100 each, to attack Mr McMyler, pointing out the victim, who was sat drinking outside a town centre pub, to them.

But when the boys did not carry out the plan, Peake tried again, approaching four people, who had just got off a train from the Liverpool area.

This time he was successful and, after surrounding Mr McMyler as he sat on a bench in Wigan Parish Church gardens, he was viciously kicked in the head, suffered a heart attack and lay dying.

But Peake’s scheme backfired on him as the 14-year-old, who was 13 at the time of the killing, turned on him and smashed him over the head with a bottle.

As his fellow killers ran off laughing, Peake stumbled away, but returned a short time later to steal Mr McMyler’s suitcase as he lay on the ground dying.

The court had heard how joiner Mr McMyler, after suffering a broken relationship, planned to take a break in Thailand and had travelled to London to catch a flight.

But while in the city he changed his mind and headed home to Wigan.

After his train pulled into Wigan he headed for Goldsmiths jewellers to get a valuation on the watch he was wearing and was told it was a gold and steel Rolex Submariner, worth around £11,250.

Still with his suitcase, Mr McMyler headed to nearby pubs before, fatefully, encountering Peake, a man he did not know, in Wallgate.

The pair headed to The Raven pub for more drinks where Mr McMyler made the mistake of telling Peake about the watch.

Temporarily leaving Mr McMyler at the table, Peake called out to an 11-year-old schoolboy he spotted nearby, showed him and his friend cash he had stuffed down his sock and offered them £100 each if they “battered” the victim.

The boys initially agreed but the changed their minds and left as Mr McMyler and Peake sat in the church gardens taking drugs.

Still determined to have the watch, Peake approached two men and two youths who appeared in the gardens after getting off a train from the Merseyside area at 7.30pm.

Within minutes they had agreed and carried it out, one of them kicking Mr McMyler in the face, knocking him unconscious before turning on Peake and then fleeing, heading back to Liverpool in a taxi.

Non of the defendants showed any concern for Mr McMyler as he lay on the ground and was only helped when members if the public found him a short time later. He had suffered a severe head injury which brought on a cardiac arrest and, despite the best efforts of passers-by and paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene at 8.11pm.

Following legal submissions, part way through the trial, the defendants were found not guilty of murder on the direction of the judge, Mr Justice Turner.

A fifth person, Jordan Short, aged 19, of Rushey Hey Road, Kirkby, was also due to stand trial in connection with Mr McMyler’s death but he was unwell and so his case will be dealt with at a later date.

Two men and two teenage boys have been convicted of killing Steven McMyler during a conspiracy to rob a high-value watch in the centre of Wigan last August.

After a four-week trial at Manchester Crown Court, the jury today (Wednesday 12 May 2021) unanimously found Lewis Peake, 30, Michael Wilson, 20, and two boys, aged 17 and 14, guilty of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob after the incident on Thursday 6 August 2020.

The court heard how Peake, of James Street, Little Lever, recruited the three other offenders to assault Steven, aged 34, and attempted to steal his Rolex watch worth an estimated £13,000.

During the incident shortly before 7.50pm that evening, Steven suffered unsurvivable head injuries and was sadly pronounced dead at the scene in the gardens of Wigan Parish Church a short time later.

A homicide investigation was launched by GMP's Major Incident Team and, after meticulously working through a considerable number of lines of inquiry, five suspects were charged with Steven's murder.

Peake, Wilson, of Northfield Close, Kirby, and two teenage boys that cannot be named for legal reasons were today convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob.

The fifth suspect, Jordan Short, 20, of Rushey Hey Road, Kirkby, is due to stand trial later this year accused of murder and conspiracy to rob.

Speaking after the verdicts were announced, senior investigationg officer Det Chief Insp Cheryl Chatterton, said: "Thankfully justice has been served for Steven and his family who have gone through the most unimaginable heartache in the last nine months - not only losing Steven in horrendous circumstances, but then to relive it all through this trial.

"While today is justice for them, they will still not be able to get complete closure on this case until the final defendant faces trial in November later this year, where they will undoubtedly go through that trauma again. Their strength has been admirable and our thoughts remain with them.

"This investigation has been a complex and serious inquiry, and has required painstaking efforts from every one of our detectives involved in helping to get these verdicts today.

"Steven was killed just because he was wearing a valuable watch and these four offenders have now been recognised for the crimes that they have committed.

"They may have gone to Wigan that day to rob Steven's belongings, but they ultimately have robbed him and his loved ones of his life, and for that I am satisfied knowing that they will now be punished."