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Andrew Simon ASTON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Crack cocaine addict - Robberies
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: March 25/30, 2001
Date of arrest: March 31, 2001
Date of birth: November 22, 1972
Victim profile: Frank Hobley, 80 / George Dale, 87
Method of murder: Beating with an iron bar
Location: Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to 26 concurrent terms of life imprisonment on February 20, 2002
 
 
 
 
 
 

Andrew Simon Aston (born 22 November 1972 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England) is a convicted British murderer who has the distinction of having received the longest prison sentence ever handed down in England and Wales - 26 concurrent terms of life imprisonment.

Over a period of three months in early 2001, Aston, a cocaine addict, attacked 26 elderly and disabled people in robberies at their homes in Birmingham and nearby Smethwick. Two of the victims died as a result of their injuries; 87-year-old George Dale, who died in hospital two weeks after being attacked at his Ladywood home on 16 March, and 80-year-old Frank Hobley, who was also attacked in March 2001 at his home in Stechford and died three months later as a result of his injuries.

Aston was first questioned about the attack on George Dale three days after it happened. Mr Dale's wife Betty, 86 at the time, was also injured in the attack but survived.

He was finally arrested while attacking a 92-year-old man in his home on 27 March 2001, He was charged with the murder of George Dale on 5 April 2001, and later with that of Frank Hobley following his death two months later. He was subsequent charged with attacks and robberies against 24 other people - all of them elderly or disabled.

By the time he went on trial in January 2002, six of his victims had died, while another six were too frail to give evidence against him in court.

He was found guilty of two murders and a further 24 charges of assault and robbery at Birmingham Crown Court on 20 February 2002, for which he received 26 life sentences. No recommended minimum term was reported at the time, and whether a fixed minimum term has been set by the Home Office or High Court since has not been reported, although media sources at the time suggested that Aston was unlikely to be released for a very long time, if ever.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

From the Archives: Heartless addict who preyed on pensioners

THE savage attack and murder of two elderly Birmingham war heroes shocked and outraged people in Birmingham

BirminghamMail.co.uk

September 23, 2010

THE savage attack and murder of two elderly Birmingham war heroes shocked and outraged people in Birmingham.

World War II veterans George Dale, aged 87 and Francis Hobley, aged 80, had been targeted in their own homes by callous killer Andrew Simon Aston who posed as a police officer to trick his way into their homes in 2001.

Drug addict Aston, then aged 28, brutally attacked and battered his victims in front of their wives. Both men died in hospital from their injuries.

During Aston’s trial for murder in 2002, it was revealed he had conned and robbed another 20 pensioners and assaulted four people in a string of similar raids across Birmingham and Sandwell.

Detectives investigating Aston’s case said his attacks became more horrific and brutal each time.

Back on March 30, 2001, George and his wife Betty, aged 86, had been at their home in St Mark’s Crescent, Ladywood when Aston knocked on their door at 3pm.

The keen walker and cyclist allowed him into the house. But wife of 55 years Betty said her suspicions were aroused and asked to see his identification.

That was when Aston became violent and struck out at George with an iron bar before fleeing with just a camera and a bag of papers.

The unprovoked attack left the father-of-two fighting for life and paralysed from the chest down with a broken neck, severed spinal cord and severe facial injuries.

His distraught family, including son Derek and daughter Linda, joined pleas for his killer to be caught. As his dad lay battling for life in hospital, Derek said: “It was a really sick crime. Even though he is 87, George was fit and healthy and had his life ahead of him. He was looking forward to being 100.

“He would do anything to help anybody.

“There are a lot of people who know him and they are going to find this tragic and sick. It is going to leave us all devastated.”

Unfortunately the former bombardier died eight days later.

The assault sparked public outrage and the Evening Mail together with the Dale family launched a memorial fund to raise money for City Hospital that cared for George. Public donations poured in and nearly £4,400 was raised, helping to pay for lifesaving blood and heart monitors for the critical care unit.

Like George, Francis was a veteran who won medals for his service in Dunkirk, Burma and India.

His grieving widow Freda, had been recovering from two heart attacks. She told Birmingham Crown Court how a man called at their bungalow in Stechford on March 25 2001 asking for directions.

Although Aston forced his way into the couple’s home, Francis, known to family and friends as Frank, showed his bravery by trying to fight off the intruder with his walking stick. But Aston overpowered him and hit him with a bat or brush. Frank died on June 10 from pneumonia with heart failure, blood clots and a broken hip, which pathologists said was linked to the original hip injury he received during Aston’s attack.

After his death, son John said he felt bitter that such a brave and noble man who fought for his country should die at the hands of a heroin addict.

He said: “Aston is a scumball – the lowest of the low. I won’t be happy until he comes out of prison in a body bag.”

Detectives launched a murder inquiry looking into links between a series of raids on elderly victims, where the attacker always posed as a police officer.

According to cops, Aston, had been under surveillance for three days and had been caught red-handed as he attacked another pensioner, William Dorman, in Sheldon.

He was arrested and brought before Birmingham Magistrates Court in April charged with Mr Dale’s murder and 37 other offences.

Jurors at the trial took just under six hours to find Aston guilty. He was given 26 life sentences and found guilty of 20 robberies and four assaults.

Judge Mr Justice Butterfield said during sentencing, “Mr Aston targeted his victims, they were at his mercy and they were terrified of him. The robberies were brutal and cowardly and as time went on the level of violence increased and the injuries became more serious.”

Aston’s own father Roger said he was appalled by his son’s actions.

The former ambulance man, said after the trial: “I would hang him, because as long as Andy’s alive every Christmas, every birthday, we’ll remember him. I cannot go near him.

“I have brought two children into the world. Both of them were given love in the same way and punished in the same way, One is a good mother, the other is a killer. Why?”

Roger later spoke out against Government plans to reclassify cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug describing how his son’s addiction began with cannabis then ‘graduated’ to harder drugs. “We cannot put up with the drugs that are affecting everybody’s lives.

“I believe in a life for a life. We need a deterrent. If you want to decriminalise soft drugs, you might just as well decriminalise murder.”

How was Aston caught?

* A painstaking investigation involving a offender profilers and covert surveillance led to Andrew Aston being caught red-handed by police.

* Detectives found him holding 92-year-old William Dorman in a wristlock on March 31 after he had gone to the pensioner’s home in Sheldon, claiming to be a police officer.

* He was being tracked by a covert surveillance team, the culmination of an investigation which began three months earlier in response to a series of attacks in Smethwick.

* Offender profilers were brought in from the National Crime Faculty and experts from Operation Liberal, the police initiative against distraction burglars, were drafted in. As a result Aston emerged as the prime suspect. Not only did he match the description, he was known to have contacts within the distraction burglar network.

* In September 2000 he was arrested on suspicion of three bogus official burglaries. He was taken into custody but was then released in December when the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. A surveillance operation, Operation Dogs, began on March 28 with Aston given the codename ‘Spaniel’.

* Three days later officers observed Aston approach a number of homes in Sheldon occupied by elderly people. It was at one of these addresses that they found Aston attacking William Dorman.

Aston: Profile of a killer

* Born in Birmingham on November 22, 1972, Aston grew up in Stechford, where he attended Cockshutt Hill Secondary School.

* After leaving school he trained as a butcher, but soon ended up in trouble and was convicted of attacking a policeman in 1990. It was the first of many times Aston appeared before the courts.

* Aston was known to police long before he embarked on his three-month spree, which encompassed more than 20 robberies and two murders.

* Other crimes he committed included public order offences, handling stolen goods, possession of an offensive weapon and vehicle crime.

* In 1994 he was sentenced to five months for a number of auto crimes. Later that year he was sentenced to nine months for theft and causing criminal damage.

* Although Aston denied he was a drug addict, he is known to have been a heroin user at the time of his arrest in September 2000.

* On January 12 2001, a series of attacks against elderly residents of Smethwick began. The common thread running throughout was that the offender often posed as a police officer.

Aston’s 90-day reign of terror

January 12 2001: Smethwick, robbed Kizstoff Milczarek, 71, of £100

January 14: Smethwick, robbed Edgar Jones, 83, of £260 and a wallet

January 19: Smethwick, robbed William Haynes, 67, of £150 and a wallet

January 22: Smethwick, robbed Jack Turner, 83, of £50

January 23: Smethwick, robbed Miriam Knight, 85, of £17, two bank cards and a quantity of stamps

January 25: Smethwick, robbed Gerald Cooper, 70, of £365, a bank card, bus pass and jewellery

January 28: Smethwick, robbed Margaret Wooley, 71, of a mobile phone and a kitchen knife

January 28: Smethwick, robbed Clifford Bailey, 78, of £300 and a wallet

February 9: Smethwick, robbed Beresford Johnson, 63, of £65

February 9: Smethwick, assaulted James Gair, 79, with intent to rob him

February 10: Ladywood, robbed Rose Booth, 63, of £80

February 10: Smethwick, robbed Frank Hogben, 72, of £10

February 10: Smethwick, assaulted Edna Radcliffe, 74, with intent to rob her

February 19: Ladywood, robbed Stanley Bates, 74, of £20, a wallet and a purse

February 22: Smethwick, robbed Emily Preston, 90, of a handbag and contents

February 25: Smethwick, robbed James Welsh, 60, of £80

February 25: Tipton, robbed Walter Silwood, 86, of a wallet containing £200

March 17: Smethwick, robbed Florence Tibbetts, 78, of £30

March 18: Smethwick, robbed Mary Norgrove, 79, of £340 and two purses

March 22: Edgbaston, robbed George Johnson, 86, of £170

March 25: Stechford, assaulted with intent to rob Ronald Nash, 72

March 25: Stechford, murdered Francis Hobley, 80

March 26: Smethwick, robbed Joe Mills, 87, of a watch and a wallet

March 27: Smethwick, robbed Thomas Burrows, 90, of two cash point cards and a wallet

March 30: Ladywood, murdered George Dale, 87

March 31: Sheldon, assaulted with intent to rob William Dorman, 92

 
 

Killer gets 26 life sentences

BBC.co.uk

February 20, 2002

A crack cocaine addict who beat two war veterans to death has been given 26 life sentences for his "campaign of terror".

A jury found former butcher Andrew Aston guilty of murdering 87-year-old war veteran George Dale and 80-year-old Francis Hobley from Stechford, Birmingham.

Mr Justice Butterfield said Aston, who refused to leave his cell to hear the verdicts, had exhibited a "gratuitous desire" to hurt his victims.

Roger Aston, father of the killer, gave evidence in court which led to the conviction of his son.

He said: "Although he is my own son and I love him, we can't have that evil out there and I had to make a stand."

Aston, 29, was also convicted of 24 other charges of assault and robbery in a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

The judge said the killer had waged a campaign of terror against vulnerable and frail people over a three-month period.

'Brutal' crimes

Aston, who often posed as a policeman to con his way into pensioners' homes, had committed crimes that were "brutal, cowardly and often extremely violent".

The court was told the two war veterans were killed during a series of vicious raids by Aston in the Birmingham area in 2001.

Mr Dale, a former anti-aircraft gunner who served in Malta during the Second World War, was murdered because he tried to challenge Aston, the court heard.

The war veteran, who was partially sighted, was attacked at his home on 16 March last year and died of his injuries two weeks later.

Mr Hobley, a Dunkirk veteran who also served in Burma, was killed because Aston needed to feed his craving for cocaine.

He died last June after an incident at his home in Stechford three months earlier.

Aston gave police a bogus alibi after DNA tests linked him to one of the killings, falsely claiming to have been with two girls on the day Mr Dale was savagely attacked.

Charges denied

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Pallister of West Midlands Police said: "We take no pleasure in his conviction because so many innocent people have suffered so much at his hands.

"We can only take grim satisfaction that an evil danger has been removed from society for years to come.

Aston of Stechford had denied the murder, assault and robbery charges.

More than 20 of the offences were alleged to have been committed in an area around Smethwick and five others in Stechford.

His barrister, Ian Alexander QC, told the court that Aston believed the evidence against him had been "manipulated" to make him appear guilty.

 
 

Killer's 26 life sentences

By David Wilkes - DailyMail.co.uk

February 21, 2002

A drug addict was given 26 life sentences yesterday for murdering two war veterans and attacking 24 other pensioners in their homes.

Andrew Aston, 29, who graduated to heroin and crack cocaine from cannabis, often pretended to be on police business to trick his way into the homes of his victims, who were aged up to 92.

When they let him in he confronted them, yelling, 'Money, money, money!' His total haul was only around £2,000.

The number of life sentences passed at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday is believed to be a record and means Aston is unlikely ever to go free.

The punishment exceed the 21 life sentences given to each of the Birmingham Six in August 1975 and the 15 being served by mass murderer GP Harold Shipman.

His own father said Aston should be hanged and criticised calls for soft drugs to be decriminalised.

Aston's 90-day reign of terror in the West Midlands areas of Smethwick, Ladywood and Stechford began in January 2001.

It peaked in March when he savagely beat George Dale, 87, with an iron bar and broke his neck for the sake of a near-worthless holdall. The partially-sighted grandfather, who fought in the Royal Artillery in World War II, died two weeks later.

Disabled Frank Hobley, 80, who saw action at Dunkirk, Burma and India, died three months after having his hip broken in an attack nine days later.

A third victim, 64-year-old Beresford Johnson, who had recently had a leg amputated, was tipped from his wheelchair, kicked and left helpless on the floor with head injuries.

West Midlands police tracked Aston for four days before arresting him on March 31 last year.

He was cornered after tricking his way into the home of 92-year- old William Dorman. Detectives burst in to find Aston holding his terrified victim in an armlock.

Throughout his five-week trial jobless Aston, of Stechford, denied two charges of murder, 21 of robbery and five assaults with intent to rob.

He claimed that he was working with his father Roger, a painter and decorator, when some of the crimes took place. But his father gave evidence against him, telling the court Aston was lying and that he did not know where his son had been.

Relatives of Aston's victims cheered and wept as the jury of eight men and four women found him guilty. He was cleared of one charge of assault with intent and one charge of robbery.

Sentencing Aston, Mr Justice Butterfield said: 'All his victims were elderly, frail and vulnerable and I am satisfied he targeted them. They were at his mercy and he gave them none.

'The whole community must have lived under a shadow of fear waiting for the robber to strike again.

'The defendant robbed Mr Dale of his life. Equally Mr Hobley, a man who had served his country and had a family, was murdered because of Mr Aston's violence for him to feed a habit for the evil drug cocaine.'

Detectives said Aston, described as a loner, knew many of his victims would be too frail to testify against him. In fact, six witnesses had died since making initial statements to the police and another six were too unwell to attend court.

Last night Roger Aston, a former ambulanceman, said: 'I would hang him, because as long as Andy's alive every Christmas, every birthday, we'll remember him. I cannot go near him.

'I have brought two children into the world. Both of them were given love in the same way and punished in the same way, One is a good mother, the other is a killer. Why?'

Describing how his son took cannabis then 'graduated' to harder drugs, he added: 'We cannot put up with the drugs that are affecting everybody's lives. I believe in a life for a life. We need a deterrent.

'If you want to decriminalise soft drugs, you might just as well decriminalise murder.'

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Pallister said: 'Aston is a cowardly and brutal individual who committed a catalogue of appalling offences against some of the most vulnerable people in society.

'I don't think drugs were the only issue here. It is obvious that he took gratuitous pleasure in inflicting pain on his victims.

'We take no pleasure in his conviction because so many innocent people have suffered at his hands.

'We can only take a grim satisfaction that an evil danger has been removed from society.'

He added: 'The determination of those who survived Aston's attacks to obtain justice has been an example to us all.'

Aston - who initially faced 47 charges - was released from custody only weeks before embarking on his three-month reign of terror.

He was detained in September 2000 on suspicion of committing a robbery while posing as a policeman, but released in December after police could not gather enough evidence to charge him.

 
 


The victims


Francis Hobley and George Dale