Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 12:58 UK

Benefits row led to 'brutal' Bradford shotgun murder

CCTV cameras filmed Wright approaching the house and driving off in the victims' car

Wearing a balaclava and carrying a sawn-off shotgun, Ernest Wright was caught on CCTV as he walked up to a house in Bradford, intent on committing murder.

Minutes later, a father-of-two was dead and his partner was critically injured after Wright burst into their home and fired the gun at them six times.

Neville Corby, 42, was shot in the chest and shoulder and hit over the head with the gun and as he crouched in a bedroom, Wright fired a final, fatal shot into his neck.

Craig Freear, 31, who was shot in the shoulder, managed to climb out of the bathroom window to safety and hid under a neighbour's car.

Wright fled after the killing and was hunted by police for a month before being arrested at a friend's house, next door-but-one to his own home.

Ernest Wright
That a senior citizen should be responsible for such a horrific and brutal murder is highly unusual, however, Ernest Wright is not a conventional 68-year-old
Det Supt Chris Thompson

He claimed to be somewhere else at the time of the murder, but a jury heard evidence that proved otherwise and later convicted him of murder and attempted murder.

Wright retained most of the spent shotgun cartridges, but he dropped one on the staircase and his DNA was extracted from it.

The court heard Wright befriended Mr Freear's mother, who had mental health problems, and persuaded her to have her benefit payments paid into his bank account.

He also moved her from Bradford into a property in Shipley without telling her son.

When Mr Freear and Mr Corby found out they confronted Wright and over the next few days there was an escalating hostility between the three men.

Det Supt Chris Thompson, who led the investigation, said Wright reacted with "extreme and totally disproportionate violence".

"That a senior citizen should be responsible for such a horrific and brutal murder is highly unusual, however, Ernest Wright is not a conventional 68-year-old," he said.

Mr Freear was confronted by Wright as he left for work on the morning of 30 March 2009.

Victim 'executed'

In the ensuing attack, Wright had to break and re-load twice in order to fire the six shots from the double-barrelled gun.

Wright shot at the men in the hallway before chasing them upstairs, where Mr Freear took refuge in the bathroom and Mr Corby hid in a bedroom.

As Mr Freear managed to climb on to the edge of the bath and jump out of the bathroom window, his partner was cornered by Wright.

While Mr Corby was crouched down, Wright shot him in the neck at close range.

Bathroom window of the house
Craig Freear needed surgery after he escaped through this window

The prosecution said the shot was "nothing short of an execution of a defenceless man".

Mr Freear, who had life-saving surgery, later named Wright as his attacker, telling police that despite wearing a balaclava, he recognised Wright from his build, his gait and the wrinkles around his eyes.

During his time in hiding Wright, who had already served a life sentence for a murder he committed in 1971, wrote to the investigating officers.

Mr Thompson said Wright sent similar letters "of a self-pitying nature" to police after the 1971 murder and there were "clear parallels" in the cases.

He said: "A controlling and manipulative individual, in both cases he was involved in dysfunctional relationships with vulnerable women.

"It is at the point that his control of these relationships was challenged that he reacted with extreme and totally disproportionate violence, and in both cases was prepared to commit murder."



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