The loss of a loved one is always upsetting, but it’s especially painful when that person dies needlessly in an incident that was entirely preventable.
In June of 2018, a devoted step-father went out in search of stolen bikes that belonged to his wife’s children and to find the people who stole them. Tragically, it ended up being the very last thing the protective family man ever did.
A Happy Family
On the morning of Monday, June 18, 2018, 42-year-old Derek Whyteside was at home with his partner, Michelle Beddall, and her four children. “We lived together with my four children aged nine, 11, 14 and 15,” Beddall testified in court in November of 2018.
A Typical Monday
That morning, Beddall got ready to go to work as a carer like she normally did. After saying goodbye to Whyteside and her children, she left their home in Dawley, a small English town about 40 miles outside of Manchester. She expected that Monday to be like any other workday.
The Stolen Bikes
However, at about 11 in the morning, Beddall got a call from Whyteside who told her that the kids’ bikes had been stolen. “Derek noticed the bikes were missing at around 11 am. One was pink and black and the other was dark grey,” Beddall explained.
Reporting The Theft
“They were gone from the front of the house. I last saw them when I went to work that morning,” said Beddall, who immediately called the police to report the theft. “When I discovered they were missing I contacted the police and went next door as they had CCTV equipment at the front of their house.”
Caught On Camera
According to Beddall, the CCTV footage from a next-door neighbor’s home showed a group of schoolboys come up to their home and start wheeling away the two bikes that had been chained together from their property. “It showed a number of schoolboys – I recognized their uniforms,” Beddall added.
Trying To Resolve The Issue
Hoping the matter could be resolved peacefully, Beddall told Whyteside that she was going on her own to the home where she believed one of the boys in the security footage lived. Unfortunately, the boy’s mother wasn’t very receptive to Beddall’s accusations.
Denying The Proof
“I knocked on the door and a woman in her late 30s or early 40s came to the door. I was very angry and she was shouting back,” Beddall explained. She tried showing the woman the security footage as proof that her son was involved with the theft, but the teen’s mother refused to listen.
“We were arguing. Her reaction was that it wasn’t [her son] in the video,” Beddall said. The frustrated mom turned to leave, and at that point, the teenage boy arrived home with his friends. “I asked him where the bikes were. He said he didn’t know. He was just laughing at me.”
Taking Matters Into His Own Hands
“I was a little bit intimidated so I then walked back towards my car. They were calling me names,” Beddall said. She then got back in her car and called Whyteside to tell him what happened. The 42-year-old was fed up with the situation and decided to go out on his own.
Prepared For A Fight
Whyteside went out looking for both the bikes and the boys who stole them. According to authorities, he had taken a pair of knuckle dusters with him in case of an altercation with the troublemakers who stole the bikes. Sometime after, Whyteside called Beddall, who claimed she could hear her partner was running.
Breaking The News
“Then he phoned me again and I could hear him chasing them. He said ‘just leave the bike’. I made a call to 101 – the purpose was to tell the police what Derek had just told me. I rang Derek a number of times but there was no answer,” Beddall said. “I was contacted by the police who informed me what had happened.” The police told Whyteside that her partner had been attacked. At that point, Whyteside was still alive but he was in critical condition and was being taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Finding The Thieves
In the hours before, Whyteside had gone out and was walking the streets of the small town looking for the stolen bikes. At one point, he ran into the group of teenagers that had stolen the bike, with them was the 16-year-old who Beddall had gone to confront at his mother’s home.
Falling For A Trap
The 42-year-old started chasing them as they ran away. Whyteside didn’t know it, but he had fallen for a trap. Behind Whyteside was the other half of the group, which had started chasing him. At one point, Whyteside turned and addressed the group behind him instead of chasing after the other boys.
As he was speaking with the group, Whyteside didn’t realize that the 16-year-old had crept up on him from behind. While the stepdad’s back was turned, the 16-year-old pulled out his cricket bat and violently swung it hitting Whyteside in the back of the head. “After Mr. Whyteside had come into the road, a number of other people also came into the road including William Owens and Gareth Owens,” Prosecutor Kevin Hegarty told the court during the trial against the 16-year-old, whose name has not been released to the public.
No Way To Defend Himself
“It was then that [the defendant] came round the corner and whacked him,” Hegarty explained. “He was struck across the back of the head with a cricket bat. The impact fractured his skull. The fracture extended into his right eye socket. Before he could take another step he collapsed to the ground.”
Hitting Him While He’s Down
“He then cracked the back of his head on the ground, which caused a further serious fracture – and in turn, damage to his brain,” Hegarty said. Whyteside was clearly badly injured, but then brothers William and Gareth Owens finished the assault. “This was when they [the Owens’ brothers] ran up and struck Mr. Whyteside when he was already on the ground.”
Two Days Later
“They ran up and punched him or stomped on him.” Tragically, Whyteside died two days later from his injuries. As a result, the 16-year-old was charged with murder as multiple witnesses came forward identifying him to police. “As you will hear, he raised the bat to head height to strike the blow. It’s described in the evidence as a full swing,” Hegarty said.
“When he did that he intended at the very least to do really serious harm to Mr. Whyteside. He did so from behind Mr. Whyteside.” Hegarty said. “He gave Mr. Whyteside no chance to take any action to defend himself or to get away. No chance at all.” At the end of the seven-day trial, a jury unanimously found the 16-year-old guilty for Whyteside’s murder.
The two brothers who also attacked the 42-year-old have also pleaded guilty for their involvement in the assault. The teen faces life in prison for the crime and is set to be sentenced in the coming months by Judge Paul Glenn. “The death of your child is the worst that life can throw at you and will be with all our family for the rest of our lives,” Whyteside’s father, Alan, said in a statement after the verdict.
The Family Speaks Out
“Derek was no saint but he was starting to put his life together when it was taken from him by a youth in a cowardly attack. He was very proactive and loyal to his family and friends. He saw the best in everyone and would help you in whatever way he could. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him,” the family said in a statement. “He was a fab dad to his partner’s children, very protective, cheeky and loving and always meant well. He was Michelle’s world and was so good to her. He was a great brother too. We can’t understand why anyone would do this.”