SPECIAL REPORT: Northampton family launch new appeal to help solve 10-year-old mystery of their father’s death

Sean Knight looks over articles following his father's death, with grandmother Angela Jeffery. Dean Knight pictured below.
Sean Knight looks over articles following his father's death, with grandmother Angela Jeffery. Dean Knight pictured below.

A father-of-two, who died mysteriously after a night out in Northampton in 2005, had been mugged, police have told his family.

Almost 10 years after the death of Dean Knight, who was found unconscious outside his home in Matchless Close, in Duston, on April 29, his family are again appealing for anyone who has information to come forward.

Sean Knight before his death in 2005

Sean Knight before his death in 2005

Mr Knight, a former forklift driver, had received a serious head injury while on a night out in Northampton and he died four days later in an Oxford hospital, aged 36.

When he was found on his driveway, he showed no other signs of injury apart from a small graze on an arm.

But his son, Sean, who was aged 10 at the time, has now revealed that, after asking police for all the evidence they collected, the force confirmed his father had been mugged on the night of the attack.

Although four arrests were made in connection with the case, no charges were made.

It has also emerged that among other evidence, a neighbour saw Mr Knight

being dropped off by a white van.

Sean said: “The police came over and showed us CCTV footage of dad staggering down Gold Street, holding his head, after leaving the Chicago Rock Cafe [which has since closed) on the Market Square.

“It shows him a bit later in Limehurst Square, in Duston, but then he disappears.

“The eyewitness accounts are a bit jumbled, but one of his neighbours said they saw him get dropped off at the house at around 7am by a white van and it looked like the driver was watching him.

“An hour later he had gone and then an hour after that they saw him lying in the driveway.”

Sean and his sister, Anna, now aged 17, who grew up with their grandmother, Angela Jeffery, arrived to stay with Mr Knight just as he was found.

Mrs Jeffery, aged 62, said: “We passed the ambulance leaving as we were coming up the road towards the house, but we didn’t think anything of it at the time.

“When neighbours told us what had happened, we went straight to Northampton General Hospital and I visited him every day.

“He was moved to Oxford and died on March 3. When it happened, Dean and I sat outside together and sobbed.”

Police believe that Mr Knight was robbed after leaving the club as his driver’s licence and wallet were recovered in Harlestone Road.

Mrs Jeffery said: “All he had in his pockets when he was found was a penny. He didn’t even have the keys to get into his house. Just before the attack he had been on a trip with his father and was really looking forward to having his children over for the weekend.

“I am very bitter about it because I don’t think police tried hard enough to find those responsible for his death. They made four arrests, but then said they didn’t have enough evidence. I haven’t been able to sleep properly in the 10 years since it happened.”

The inquest into Mr Knight’s death recorded an open verdict and the pathologist said he had sustained fatal head injuries, consistent with a heavy blow.

Some evidence had suggested that Mr Knight could have accidentally fallen from a wheelie bin, but this has never been accepted by his family.

************************************

SON: “I THINK ABOUT HIM ALL THE TIME”

A man whose father died after being found unconscious on the driveway of hishouse 10 years ago, said he still misses his father.

Sean Knight, who was 10 when he lost his father, Dean, said: “I still think about him all the time. We were very close.

“I have a lot of fun, happy memories with him.

“My favourite toy growing up was a helicopter he bought me once for Christmas and a tape of songs that we always played.”

Sean, who studies animal management at Moulton College and is hoping to start university this year, added: “I am sure he would have been very proud of me and my sister.”

Now almost 20 years old, Sean has made a fresh appeal for witnesses who might have information about the night his father died as he makes plans to move from Northampton to Norfolk in June.

He said: “If only we knew more about what happened, our family could start to get some closure. That is still so important for me.

“Somebody must remember; somebody must know something about what happened, but I think people are scared of getting involved.

“I just want anyone who was in the area on that night to try to think a bit harder.

Sean’s grandmother, Angela Jeffery, said: “Dean was a fun-loving man who absolutely idolised his children.

“He was cruelly taken from them and it has affected everyone in the family. We have never been able to get over it.

“Nobody deserves to die in the way he did.

“I remember every moment of the day he was found like it was yesterday.”

****************************************

WITNESSES MAY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED

The reason for Dean Knight’s death and those responsible remain a mystery, despite police investigations and several appeals by his family, publicised in national news, for anyone with information to come forward.

Following the incident, detectives handed out more than 400 leaflets to clubgoers in Northampton town centre in a bid to jog the memories of people who might have seen something on the night.

In June 2005, Angela Jeffery and her late husband, Colin, made a public plea for information after Mr Knight’s son, Sean, then aged 10, wrote a letter to his father. It read: “I miss you very much and all of us will never forget you. You are still the best daddy in the world.”

On the third anniversary of his death, Mr Knight’s father, Gordon Knight, launched a fresh campaign offering a £10,000 reward to witnesses who could come forward with vital information. He told The Chron: “I don’t think people really understand that this never goes away. I think about it every single day. If this had happened to me, I know Dean would have done everything he could to find out what happened and, because I still don’t know, I feel like I’ve failed him.”