Four males have been convicted of the manslaughter of a father-of-two who was kicked to death in the grounds of a church for his £11,000 gold Rolex watch.
Steven McMyler, 34, was targeted within the grounds of Wigan parish church in the early evening of 6th August last year.
Shortly before, the joiner had been in a nearby town centre pub when a fellow drinker, Lewis Peake, 29, learned he was was wearing the 18-carat Submariner watch.
Peake first tried to persuade two boys, aged 12 and 13, outside The Raven pub to help him rob Mr McMyler and offered them £100 each, a court heard.
When the offer was rejected he persisted with his plan as, by chance, Jordan Short, 20, Michael Wilson, 20, and two youths aged 14 and 17 entered the churchyard after arriving by train from Liverpool, the court was told.
Mark Ford QC, prosecuting, said the defendants were “opportunistic predators” who saw an opportunity to take advantage of Mr McMyler who was alone and worse the wear for drink.
He said they did not intend to kill him but “certainly did not hesitate to use violence as a group”.
The court was told Short delivered the fatal kick to Mr McMyler’s head, who later died in hospital. He will face trial at a later date because he is currently unwell.
However, on Wednesday jurors at Manchester Crown Court convicted Peake, Wilson and their teenage co-defendants of manslaughter after finding they had deliberately helped or encouraged the attack.
All four were also found guilty of conspiracy to rob.
When arrested, Peake denied he was involved with the robbery and claimed he was a victim after the Liverpool group took £200 from him after the youngest defendant, then aged 13, hit him over the head with a bottle.
Barristers for the teenage defendants told the jury their clients were “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and played no part in the robbery, while Katy Thorne QC, for Wilson, argued there was no evidence that anyone knew Short was going to kick Mr McMyler.
The trial heard Mr McMyler had opted for a “clean break” by travelling to Thailand, but decided against it when he realised he needed to self-isolate for a fortnight because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He returned from London to his home on the afternoon of August 6 and still had his suitcase with him.
The court heard Peake later returned to the attack scene as Mr McMyler lay unconscious “with his face purple”, and did not check on him as he made off with his phone and suitcase.
The watch has never been recovered.
Earlier in the trial, the jury was ordered by Mr Justice Turner to return not guilty verdicts on charges of murder against the four defendants.
Peake, of James Street, Little Lever, Bolton; Wilson, of Northfield Close, Kirkby, and the two youths, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, will be sentenced on June 11.