Man jailed for murder attempt to cover up high value fraud

A 62-year-old man has been jailed for 11 years and eight months for trying to murder a disabled woman to cover up the fact he’d stolen more than £100,000 from her over a period of more than two years.

Barry Andrew Riley, of East Morton in West Yorkshire, attempted to smother 75-year-old Ann Skelton with a pillow at her home in Westbury-on-Trym on 10 March 2018. Riley provided care for the victim, who had a degenerative physical condition, and he had Power of Attorney over her finances.

Riley has been convicted of attempted murder and fraud and was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court.

The court heard how Riley attempted to kill Ms Skelton by placing a pillow over her face, but she managed to press her buzzer to alert other care staff, who arrived to find her slumped over the side of her bed.

Ms Skelton, who was unable to talk due to her condition and used a keyboard to communicate, sadly died in hospital a few months after this incident. A forensic post-mortem examination was carried out but found no link between the incident and the cause of death.

Investigating officer Det Sgt Craig Basil said: “Barry Riley claimed he was carrying out a mercy killing because of Ms Skelton’s condition and he said she’d asked him to help end her life. Following a court hearing, his fabricated story was dismissed by the judge, who ruled that he’d gone to her room that night to kill her, and that his actions were at least partly to hide the fact he’d defrauded her.

“This was a cold and calculating attack on a woman unable to defend herself. The depths of his criminality knew no bounds and even on the day of the failed attempt to kill Ann Skelton, Riley went to the cashpoint to withdraw more of her money.

“I’d like to thank Ann’s family for having confidence in our investigation and providing us with their support through what’s clearly been a distressing ordeal for them and I hope the fact Riley has been brought to justice will help them to find some form of closure in the future.”