A KILLER whose plan to rob a man of his valuable Rolex watch led his victim's horrific death has been jailed for 13 years.

Lewis Peake had only just met Steven McMyler in Wigan town centre when he began recruiting others to help him take his £11,000 watch.

He found willing helpers in a group of youths who had just arrived on the train from Liverpool and 34-year-old Mr McMyler was kicked in the head as he sat on a bench in Wigan Parish Church ground and died.

Jailing him at Manchester Crown Court, Mr Justice Turner told 30-year-old Peake: "It was your idea to rob Mr McMyler. Your plan had been hatching long before the arrival of the Liverpool group and there was no reason to believe that they would have attacked him in the absence of your encouragement.

"You did not strike the fatal blow but it was your cowardly plan which killed him."

Peake's co-accused Michael Wilson, aged 20, of Northfield Close, Kirkby, was sentenced to nine years in detention and a 17-year-old youth and 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, received eight years' and six years' detention respectively.

All four had been found guilty of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob following a three-and-a-half week trial.

The Bolton News: Victim Steven McMylerVictim Steven McMyler

The jury 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, of James Street, Little Lever, 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.

The Bolton News: Michael WilsonMichael Wilson

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 a 14-year-old girl found him a short time later and started doing CPR. He had suffered a severe head injury which brought on a cardiac arrest and, despite the best efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene at 8.11pm.

In victim statements Mr McMyler’s mother Carol and the mothers of his two young daughters described the devastating impact his killing has had on the family.

Barristers for all defendants said they were remorseful.

Michael Brady QC, representing Peake, said: “He bitterly regrets the way in which he conducted himself that day.”

A fifth man is still to be tried over Mr McMyler's death.

Speaking after today's sentencing, Det Sgt Heidi Cullum said: "Our endeavour from day one of this investigation was to get some justice for Steven's family and friends after he was so tragically taken away from them.

"On that evening last August, Lewis Peake, Michael Wilson and the two teenage boys, embarked on what was ultimately a fatal plot to rob Steven of his watch - when what they actually ended up doing was robbing him and his loved ones of his life.

"Their cowardly actions and subsequent denial of their roles in this killing means that there is great satisfaction for the investigation team that these four are now behind bars.

"No sentence could ever be enough for Steven's family, who have been subjected to their own life sentence, and they now must prepare to relive the trauma once again for the final trial of the fifth defendant later in the year.

"They have remained admirably strong throughout this case and my thoughts, and the thoughts of all the investigation team, remain with them today."