Supergrass victim is found dead at home

Karl Chapman.
Karl Chapman.

A man who was in line for a payout from West Yorkshire Police after robbery and burglary convictions against him were quashed has been found dead.

Gary Ford, who launched a claim for damages after tainted evidence from a criminal supergrass was used to convict him, is thought to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The 54-year-old was found dead along with another man aged 47 at his home in Merseyside on Monday.

He was jailed in 1996 for a string of bogus official burglaries and robberies after being convicted largely on the evidence of Karl Chapman.

He had the majority of his convictions quashed after it emerged that Chapman had been induced to testify with alcohol, drugs and access to brothels, but officers concealed this during the case.

Mr Ford spent 15 years behind bars when, taking the early release scheme into account, he would otherwise have spent seven years inside.

Chapman was also a key witness in the case against killer Paul Maxwell, who was jailed for life for robbery and murder at Leeds Crown Court in 1998.

Reclusive brothers Joe and Bert Smales were brutally beaten by Maxwell at their home in Stanley in October 1996.

Joe, 85, died a month later from the horrific injuries he sustained.

Maxwell’s conviction was quashed at the court of appeal in 2009 on the grounds that evidence was “procured by gross prosecutorial misconduct”.

His brother Danny Mansell, who had served 12 years, also had his conviction for murder overturned and was released.

The Supreme Court ordered that Maxwell must face a retrial.

He was jailed for 17-and-a-half-years after earlier admitting his guilt.

Mr Ford was found dead at a property in Bebington on Monday, Mersyside Police confirmed.

A police spokesman said: “Following a report being received regarding the safety of a man in a house on Kennet Road, officers attended and entered the property just after midnight.

“Once inside, they found the bodies of 47-year-old Dennis Cheatham and 54-year-old Gary Patrick Ford.

“The next of kin of both men have been informed and, at this time, their deaths are being treated as unexplained.

“Post-mortem examinations are to be carried out and a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident is continuing.

“Anyone with information is asked to call the police non-emergency 101 number.”