Man jailed for pushing grandad causing his death during row over 80-year-old’s will

John Bathers was left with a bloodied and swollen head after being pushed by grandson Ashley Sumner in a heated argument over how his estate would be split upon his death

Doctors found Mr Bathershad suffered an
Doctors found Mr Bathers, pictured, had suffered an ‘unsurvivable’ brain haemorrhage when he hit his head

A man has been jailed for causing the death of his frail grandfather during a row over the 80-year-old’s will.

Pensioner John Bathers was left with a bloodied and swollen head after falling when pushed by grandson Ashley Sumner in a heated argument over how his estate would be split upon his death.

Sumner has been jailed for three years after admitting manslaughter over the incident, which happened at his grandad’s home, Birmingham Live reported..

A judge at Stafford Crown Court heard of how Mr Bathers placed his hand on his grandson’s chest before Sumner pushed him.

The push caused the pensioner, who was unsteady on his feet and prone to falls, to stumble backwards.

Sumner then left the house, taking his grandad’s car without his permission.

Mr Bathers’ head swelled up from the impact and was bloody but he was not thought to be seriously injured. His concerned daughters called for an ambulance but were told they would be waiting for five hours.

Sumner was jailed after the sentencing at Stafford Crown Court


Stoke Sentinel/BPM Media)

His health deteriorated over the following hours. He was found unconscious in bed by his daughters and he died two days later in hospital.

Doctors found he had suffered an “unsurvivable” brain haemorrhage when he hit his head.

The court was told Sumner was unhappy money that had been promised in his grandad’s will was being split among other members of the family.

It was a matter the pair had previously had disagreements on, prosecutor Robert Price explained, but this time led to physical contact between the two at Mr Bathers’ home in St Martin’s, near Oswestry, on September 6.

“The defendant wasn’t happy about the alteration he had made,” said Mr Price. “He took the view the provision made for himself was inadequate and unfair in comparison.

“It was clearly a source of tension for him. He didn’t agree with how he intended to divide it all.”

Before he died, Mr Bathers told family members they’d had “an argument about money and the will again” and that he had tripped on a rug and lost his balance.

Mr Price explained: “He said he placed his hand on Ashley just to move him away and Ashley pushed him backwards. He fell backwards because the corner of the rug was sticking up.”

The court heard how grandad and grandson generally had a loving relationship, and that Sumner thought of Mr Bathers more as a father figure as he had spent time living with him growing up.

Lynette McClement, defending, said Sumner had been distressed by problems in his relationship and family members were concerned about his drinking.

Sumner, of Berwyn View, Ellesmere, also admitted taking a vehicle without consent, driving without a licence and driving without insurance.

Ms McClement said he would regularly take his grandad’s car and he had returned it the following day.

She said: “What is clear is there was a very close and real bond between Mr Bathers and Mr Sumner. He was the anchor in this young man’s life when all else fell apart.

“Mr Sumner has said he is very distraught and devastated by what happened that day.”

Judge Mrs Justice May said while it was clear Sumner did not intend to cause his grandad’s death it was unacceptable to place his hands on a frail and elderly man and there was always an expectation he could be injured if he did so.

She said he was the only grandchild who would regularly visit him to help with tasks around the house and Mr Bathers was “proud” of him.

Sumner, who sobbed throughout the sentencing hearing over videolink from prison, broke down at this point.

And the judge said: “That’s what makes this case more sad and shameful. He was old. He deserved care not your anger and pushing.

“You didn’t mean to cause his death but nevertheless in your anger that’s what you did.

“You will have to find a way to live with it and make him proud again.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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