THE family of a Rainworth man stabbed to death say they have been denied justice after the man accused of his murder died before he could stand trial.
Pensioner Harry Tindall (70) was attacked outside his Pearl Close home on Boxing Day last year by his neighbour after a disagreement over a strip of land between their houses.
Mr Tindall - known as Ray - died of a stab wound at the scene but his attacker Jeffrey Burton (60), who had been diagnosed with cancer, was never tried for his murder because he died in February.
A Nottingham inquest into Mr Tindall’s death was told yesterday how he had approached Mr Burton to challenge him over a pallet he had placed on the land.
Both men and their partners had been friends for 10 years but in the summer of 2010 the relationship turned sour when Mr Burton asked Mr Tindall and his wife to move their bins from the disputed ground.
The argument escalated over a two-year period and came to a head on Boxing Day when Mr Tindall removed a pallet which Mr Burton had placed there - leading to the fatal incident.
Mr Tindall’s wife Kathleen (71) said: “Ray was a kind, good humoured family man who would not hurt a fly. His death has devastated the entire family and we are distraught to have lost him in such a violent and cruel way.
“We do not feel like we have achieved justice today and that we have been cheated because the person responsible for Ray’s death has not had to stand up in court and answer for what he did.”
Mr Tindall’s step-daughter, Amanda Richards (45) , told the inquest how she saw Mr Burton striding towards Mr Tindall with an axe raised above his head on 26th December last year.
She said: “Jeff had Ray in a headlock and blows had been struck and I could see a lot of blood.”
Ms Richards said Mr Burton - a former Rainworth parish councillor - dropped the axe when she grabbed his wrist but he still had her father-in-law in a headlock and stabbed him three times in the stomach with a knife.
She said: “He then slid down the garage door onto the floor.”
Mr Tindall was attended to at the scene by paramedics but died soon after. A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Tindall received 22 single or groups of injuries resulting from the use of the two weapons.
Mr Burton was arrested at the scene and charged with murder.
Mr Burton’s wife, Jaqueline Burton, said in a statement read to the court that her husband had been told just weeks before that his illness was terminal and on the morning of the attack had said to her ‘I am not having him bullying you when I am dead’.
The inquest was told by Det Insp Sean Bailey how during a police interview, Mr Burton admitted using an axe and a knife which he had deliberately collected from his garage and kitchen, knowing full well what the outcome would be if he used them.
Mr Burton told police: “If you pick a knife up you pick it up with the intention of using it. I should not have picked it up.”
When asked by police what he thought of his actions, Mr Burton said: “I wish I had not done it. We could have solved this with a cup of tea.”
Det Insp Bailey said if the case had gone to court he had ‘every confidence’ Mr Burton would have been convicted of murder. Nottinghamshire coroner Mairin Casey recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.