Man who murdered 'wrong person' in Tyldsley loses bid to have jail term reduced

Joshua Prescott attacked Thomas Williamson with two of his friends after mistakenly believing Mr Williamson had just punched another outside a bar. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

A man who murdered an innocent man in a case of mistaken identity has lost his bid to have his life sentenced reduced.

Joshua Prescott launched the 'ferocious' attack on Thomas Williamson, 30, after chasing another man who had just punched someone outside a bar.

Alongside friends, Kane Adamson and Ben Dawber, the trio cornered Mr Williamson before stabbing him several times - including through his heart and lungs - and leaving him to die at the scene.

Mr Williamson, 30, had been out for a walk to clear his head in Tyldesley, Greater Manchester, and did not know the three men when he was attacked shortly after 1am on 25 September 2021.

Sentencing the three men following a murder trial, Judge Maurice Greene described Mr Williamson, who was completely innocent, as "the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time".

Thomas Williamson, who was out on a walk to clear his head, was 'in the wrong place at the wrong time' when he was attacked. Credit: Family picture

The trial heard earlier on the night of the killing the trio, all teenagers at the time, were said to have been drinking vodka and inhaling nitrous oxide balloons.

As they drove by Lounge Bar on Castle Street shortly after 1am they saw a man, David Shuttleworth punch Jake Dinning, who he thought had been 'in dispute' with his girlfriend.

Prosecutor Jason Pitter said the men then "took the opportunity to involve themselves in the brewing trouble".

When they pulled up, Mr Shuttleworth ran off as he believed the three men, travelling in a Chevrolet Kalos on false plates, were 'associates' of the man he had just punched.

The car drove around Tyldesley town centre "on the hunt for Mr Shuttleworth" who hid in a nearby street, Cotton Close.

At the same time, Mr Williamson appeared and the driver, Dawber, was said to have asked: "Is that him?"

One of the occupants mistakenly replied 'yeah that's him' and the fatal attack began. The murder was captured on CCTV, but some of what took place was obscured by a van.

Police were called to the area of Leigh after concerns for welfare where they later discovered Thomas with serious injuries. Credit: MEN Media

Following the attack Prescott was dropped off, before Dawber and Adamson got rid of their mobile phones and attempted to set the Chevrolet on fire.

Adamson also got rid of clothing.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mr Williamson's mother, Susan Williamson, said: "I miss Thomas so much every day. There's a hole in my life with him gone that can never be filled and our home is empty without him.

"When I hear sounds coming from upstairs, my first thought is of Tom and thinking he's going to come down the stairs. It hurts every time."

Prescott admitted being in the Chevrolet on the night of the murder, but said he had been dropped off at his mother’s house in the early hours.

He claimed to have taken around 25 Xanax tablets at 8pm, which made him fall asleep.The jury rejected his claims.

Kane Adamson, Ben Dawber and Joshua Prescott were sentenced to life in prison. Credit: Greater Manchester Police

Prescott, of Walter Street, Leigh, who had no previous convictions for violence, was jailed for life and told he would serve at least 17 years in custody.

Dawber, of no fixed address, admitted stabbing Mr Williamson but claimed it was in self-defence.

He was told he would serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole.

Adamson, of no fixed address, who had 12 sets of previous convictions for 22 offences including robbery, was jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

At the Court of Appeal in London, barrister Richard Littler KC argued Prescott's sentence was 'manifestly excessive'.

Mr Littler said Prescott's minimum term was 'too close' to that handed to Adamson, given the latter's history of violent offences.

The barrister also argued that Prescott, now 21, was not involved in the disposal of evidence and was a 'secondary party', rather than a 'principal' in the murder.

But Lord Justice Males and Mr Justice Johnson rejected the appeal saying the argument had 'no real force'.

In a written judgment, they said: "It is clear that all three were present and participating. Whether or not the appellant actually wielded the knife, he was engaging in violence, encouraging the others to do so and doing so with the necessary intent for murder."

They concluded: "The minimum term of 17 years imposed cannot, in the circumstances, be regarded as manifestly excessive."