Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Three guilty of post office raid murder

Craig Hodson-Walker
Craig Hodson-Walker was shot though the heart fighting off raiders

Three men have been found guilty of murdering a sub-postmaster's son during an armed raid in Worcestershire.

Craig Hodson-Walker, 29, was killed at Fairfield Post Office on 9 January.

Anselm Ribera, 34, and Christopher Morrissey, 32, both from Birmingham, and Declan Morrissey, 34, of Solihull, were found guilty of murder.

They were also convicted of attempting to murder his father Ken. Adrian Snape, 25, was cleared of both charges, at the Birmingham Crown Court trial.

Craig Hodson-Walker was shot through the heart as he tried to fight off the masked raiders who had broken into the family's post office and general store.

'Gaping hole'

Reading a victim impact statement in court, his fiancee, Lisa Bundy, 26, said: "It was as if my whole world had collapsed and strangely enough, in hindsight, it has.

"Every day I feel lonely, I have now lost the one person I felt closest to and the one person I need to hold my hand and tell me everything would be ok.

"It has left a huge gaping hole in my life."

Anselm Ribera, Declan Morrissey and Christopher Morrissey
The three men will be sentenced on Friday

During the 10-week trial, the jury was shown CCTV footage of the moment he was shot dead as he wielded a cricket bat in an attempt to defend his parents.

His father Ken Hodson-Walker, 57, was also shot in his left shin.

Snape, of Camelot Way, Small Heath, Birmingham, had pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and admitted he was the getaway driver.

After he was cleared of murder, he leapt up in the dock and shouted obscenities.

He was removed by security staff while the jurors, some of whom were visibly upset by his outburst, were told to leave the court.

Ribera of Topfield House, Druids Heath, Christopher Morrissey, of Elmay Road, Sheldon, and his brother Declan Morrissey, of Shirley Park Road, were also convicted of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and attempted robbery.

Adrian Snape
Adrian Snape was cleared of the two charges

Prosecutor Timothy Raggatt QC had told the court the gang were a "close knit group" who had struck at the store at 0820 GMT on 9 January.

Ribera had an automatic pistol which he cocked seconds before entering the shop, the court heard.

The Morrissey brothers shared a sledgehammer as they stormed the village store and demanded money and keys from Ken Hodson-Walker who was behind the counter.

Mr Raggatt had told the court: "The crime was ruthlessly carried out and carried out with great determination."

However, he told the jury the raid was "in vain" because the safe, which contained about £20,000, was on time lock and could not be opened before 0900 GMT.

Craig's mother Judith told the court how she tried to fight off the raiders with a curtain pole and attempted to save her son as he lay dying on the floor.

Fairfield General Stores
The gang targeted the safe but the time lock could not be opened

The court had heard how gunman Ribera had already served a jail sentence for robbing another post office seven years ago.

During that raid, a concrete block had been thrown through a security screen at a post office in Kings Norton, Birmingham, in February 2002.

At the time of the murder in Fairfield, Ribera had lost his job as a drain clearance worker because of a driving ban.

At Birmingham Crown Court, he had repeatedly refused to answer questions about mobile phone evidence linking him to the fatal shooting.

All four defendants will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday.

Fantastic support

After the case, Mrs Hodson-Walker told a news conference her son would "always be our hero".

She said her husband's health had deteriorated since the raid at the post office the family had run for five years.

Judy Hodson-Walker: "These mindless dregs who murdered our son"

"Although we are happy with the verdicts, and pleased that justice has been done, the punishment for these mindless dregs who murdered Craig will never equal the pain they have caused us," she added.

"They may have started their life sentences, but ours began on the day that our son died."

Mrs Hodson-Walker said the family had been helped by "fantastic support from the community in Fairfield".

She also thanked police and the prosecution and paid tribute to the "bravery" of the witnesses who had given evidence in court.



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