A ROOFER serving a life sentence over the murder of a disabled Scarborough man has failed in a Court of Appeal bid to clear his name.
Wheelchair user and father-of-two Alan Atkin died aged 62 after a vicious assault at his home in Swan Hill Road in April last year.
Ricky Gelardo, 30, of Lismore Road, was convicted by a jury of his murder and jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court last October.
He was back in court again this week as his lawyers tried to overturn the guilty verdict, but three appeal judges kicked out the appeal.
Mr Atkin, a well known figure in Scarborough, died after suffering severe brain and bodily injuries in a punching and stamping assault at his home.
Gelardo, who is from Darlington but had been living in Scarborough at the time of the murder, had only recently met him when he launched the violent attack.
His lawyers argued that a series of flaws in the trial undermined the jury’s verdict so much that it was “unsafe” and should be quashed.
The judge had intervened when Gelardo was giving evidence, asking questions about why he did not put forward his main defence - that another person was guilty - at an earlier stage.
Between two police interviews, Gelardo had told his solicitor he was going to change his story but had been advised not to and followed that advice, the Court of Appeal was told.
The judge had been wrong to step in with the question and then compounded the error by “misdirecting” the jury when summing up the case, the appeal judges were told.
But, rejecting the arguments, Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Mr Justice Cranston and Judge Michael Baker QC upheld the trial judge’s decisions and said the summing up was “full and fair”.
“It was inevitable that the jury would ask themselves what risk there was in changing his account in order to tell the truth, whatever evidence the police had or might subsequently discover,” said Lord Justice Moore-Bick.
“In asking the question the judge merely voiced a thought that was bound to go through the jury’s mind. We are not persuaded that the jury was misdirected or that there was any unfairness in the conduct of the trial such as to lead to the conviction being unsafe.”
Gelardo will serve at least 17 years behind bars before he can apply for release and will only then be freed if he can convince the Parole Board he is not dangerous.