Mum heartbroken after son causes own grandad's death in inheritance row


John Bathers

John Bathers fell and hit his head (Image: West Mercia Police)

A judge heard Mr Bathers, 80, placed his hand on his grandson’s chest before Sumner pushed him, causing the pensioner, who was unsteady on his feet and prone to falls, to stumble backwards. 

The court heard Mr Bathers’ head was left bloodied and swollen, but he was not initially thought to be seriously injured. His concerned daughters called for an ambulance but were told they would be waiting for five hours, Stafford Crown Court heard.

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

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

Sumner, 31, left the house following the row, taking his car without permission.

He was unhappy money that had been promised in his grandad’s will was being split among other members of the family, the court heard.

Sumner admitted manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in jail, reports Birmingham Live.

Katherine Williams – Sumner’s mother and Mr Bathers’ daughter – said her family had been ripped apart and life would never be the same after losing her beloved father and seeing her son locked up for causing his death.

She said: “My life feels like it is ruined. I don’t want to face the world.

“I have not just lost my father, the man who always cared for me and loved me, I have lost my son, a boy I have looked out for and tried to protect and love all his life. I have lost two people I have loved with all my heart.

“I’ll never explain how this has changed my life. They say grief gets easier but they lied. I just can’t see the light at the end of this dark tunnel.”

Stafford Crown Court

The case was heard at Stafford Crown Court (Image: Reach Plc)

The court heard that, although Mr Bathers and Sumner had argued previously, they generally had a loving relationship and Sumner was devastated by his grandad’s death.

Ms Williams said she would continue to be there for her son.

She said: “Some people want me to hate my son. They hate but my son knows I love him. My father was everything. My world, my hero.

“I had a very close relationship with my father. I am 49 but if I was struggling with anything I still wanted my father.

“My life will never be the same. This has had a massive impact on me, not only losing my father but my son.

“I want to wake up and face the day with no black clouds above my head. I want a day where I don’t cry.”

Sentencing Sumner, Judge Mrs Justice May said: “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.”

I have not just lost my father, the man who always cared for me and loved me, I have lost my son, a boy I have looked out for and tried to protect and love all his life

Katherine Williams, mother of Ashley Sumner

Robert Price, prosecuting, told the court Sumner had previously had disagreements about the will.

When Sumner visited his grandad’s home in Oswestry, Shropshire, on September 6, the physical altercation occurred.

“The defendant wasn’t happy about the alteration he had made,” said Mr Price.

“He took the view that 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.

“He (Mr Bathers) 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 Sumner thought of Mr Bathers as more of 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 Ellesmere, Shropshire, 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 that 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.”



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