Manchester

Paul Croft murder: Two jailed for baseball bat killing

Paul Croft Image copyright GMP
Image caption Paul Croft died after being beaten in an alleyway in 2005

Two men have been convicted of beating a man to death with a baseball bat 12 years ago.

Paul Croft, 19, from Eccles, died a week after being attacked in an alley in Pendlebury, Salford in 2005.

James Wilde, 29, of Rake Lane, Swinton, was found guilty of murder, while Paul O'Neill, 36, of Broomhall Road, Pendlebury was convicted of manslaughter at Manchester Crown Court.

On sentencing, his mother Susan Croft said "justice has been served".

"We need to attempt to move on and hopefully today will provide closure for our pain over the last 12 years," she added.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption A baseball bat was found at the scene of the attack

Wilde was sentenced to life with a minimum of 16 years, while O'Neill received 12 years in prison.

In 2010, Greater Manchester Police offered a £50,000 reward to catch Mr Croft's killers.

The force's cold case unit reopened the investigation in 2015 and the killers were arrested last year after a witness came forward.

Mr Croft and his friend were "viciously" attacked on 24 March 2005 at Sandy Path in Pendlebury by a gang armed with weapons, police said.

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Paul O'Neill and James Wilde were jailed for killing Paul Croft

Answering two separate emergency calls, police arrived to find Mr Croft on the ground with severe head injuries and a baseball bat at the scene.

He died a week later in hospital, leaving his girlfriend, who was seven months pregnant with twins.

Senior investigating officer Bob Tonge said it had been "a horrendous attack on a man who had simply enjoyed a night out with friends".

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