AN 85-YEAR-OLD Cheshire man has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted as one of the UK's oldest murderers.

Thomas Dunn appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday, November 17, where he was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 17 years and six months.

Dunn, of Oakdene Court, had previously pleaded guilty to the murder of Royston Costello, 60, who was also a resident at the Sandbach supported living complex, where he had lived with his wife for several years. He had brutally attacked his victim with a spade.

In the months leading up to the incident, Dunn had developed a grudge against Mr Costello.

He claimed that Mr Costello had been breaking the rules at the housing complex, making noises, using a fire door and letting his dog off its lead.

Dunn was also unhappy that Mr Costello had recently been given a new car under the mobility scheme.

Mr Costello denied the allegations against him, but on Sunday, February 19, he awoke to find a Z mark had been scratched onto his new car.

Spade attack

He confronted Dunn about the matter and the incident was reported to police who attended the scene and started an investigation.

However, on Monday, February 20, Dunn decided to go one step further.

After waking up at 2am, he decided that he was going to attack Mr Costello and went out to a neighbours shed to get a spade. He then took the spade back into his flat and waited ready for the attack.

Shortly before 10am Mr Costello’s wife went out to take the dog for a walk. Knowing that Mr Costello was alone, Dunn then approached his flat. He then entered through an unlocked door, armed with his spade, where he saw that Mr Costello was asleep on the sofa.

Dunn then attacked Mr Costello from behind, hitting him three times on the head and purposely using the side of the spade to cause the most harm.

He then left the flat and disposed the spade in a hedge, before leaving the area on his electric scooter.

Mr Costello’s wife returned to the flat at around 10am where she found her husband on the sofa with serious head injuries.

He was treated by paramedics at the scene before being taken to the Royal Stoke Hospital.

The incident was reported to police who immediately launched an investigation.

Officers quickly identified Dunn as the main suspect and following extensive searches he was located and arrested at 2.40pm that day inside a nursing home on Lacey Green in Wilmslow.

Mr Costello underwent emergency brain surgery and remained in critical care, partially paralysed and unable to speak.

'Actions were horrific'

Despite the best efforts of the staff at the hospital, he died two months later on Thursday, April 20.

Dunn was initially charged with section 18 assault following the attack, but the charge was later upgraded after Mr Costello’s death.

Following today’s sentencing, Detective Inspector David Hutcheon, said: “Dunn’s actions that day were horrific. From the moment he awoke he was intent on causing harm to Mr Costello.

“He carefully planned his attack, hitting Mr Costello with a spade from behind as he slept on the sofa, knowing that he had no way to defend himself.

“During questioning Dunn admitted that he knew that he had inflicted serious injuries on Mr Costello following the first blow, but that he went on to hit him a further two times as he wanted to ‘teach him a lesson’.

“As a result of his actions that day, a wife has lost her loving husband, two children have lost their dad and six grandchildren have lost their caring granddad.

“While Mr Costello’s family will never be able to forget what happened that day, I hope that the fact that Dunn has now been held accountable for his actions and is likely spend a long time behind bars, will provide them with some closure.”

'Roy was a gentle giant'

Following the sentencing, Mr Costello’s wife paid tribute to her husband.


Royston Costello. Picture: Cheshire Constabulary.

Royston Costello. Picture: Cheshire Constabulary.


She said: “Roy was a gentle giant who would always help anyone, he was very well loved by all who knew him, because of his caring nature.

"Roy and I were very much one unit and we went everywhere and did everything together, quite simply we were each others world, we always said as long as we had each other that was enough.

"Roy being taken the way he was by a neighbour who can only be described as an evil coward is something I will never get over, I have been left with a big void in my life where Roy used to be and I know life will not be the same.

"I miss Roy each and every day and I now have to live my life a different way, I will do my very best to live a life without Roy as I know this is what he would want but I do not look forward to this and it will not be easy without him, he was my rock.

"I love you Roy and always will and I thank you for the wonderful 23 years we shared together. I promise you that not a day will go by when I will not think of you.

"You will always be with me in my heart and soul, but for now, RIP my darling until we meet again."