It was a horrifying murder no-one could understand – why would anybody have lain in wait in the dark for a gentle man with no enemies and beaten him to death with a metal bar as he walked home from work?
Simon Holdsworth was hugely popular at the FBS Prestige factory on Birley Vale Avenue where he had worked for 16 years and, in the days after his death, colleagues could not comprehend why anyone would have possibly wanted to hurt him.
Little did they know it was actually one of their own workmates who was responsible for Simon’s dreadful death – and just because Simon had refused to reopen the factory so his killer could get his wallet. Shaun Wainwright, who had started at FBS as an agency worker a few months before, realised he had left his wallet at work as he drove home from the factory after a shift on December 16, 2013, at around 11pm.
Knowing Simon’s route home involved getting the 120 bus and then walking across the Rainbow Forge Primary School playing fields – where Wainwright himself had been a pupil – Wainwright drove to the bus stop and asked Simon to reopen the factory for him so he could get his wallet in order to go night-fishing.
No one knows the precise details of their conversation, but the prosecution in Wainwright’s trial said Simon refused because he wanted to go home.
A furious Wainwright, who had a long history of reacting with violence when circumstances went against him, then drove up to the primary school, circling around in his car to ensure it was a good place for the attack.
Simon had often spoken at work that he did not enjoy walking over the playing fields as the streetlights were often out.
That was the case that night and it was pitch black as Wainwright got out of his car and hid behind a hedgerow, waiting for Simon to arrive. At around 11.15pm, he struck Simon about the head several times with ‘extreme force’ with a blunt instrument, believed to be a section of metal bar he had taken from work some months before and kept in his car.
Simon suffered a fractured skull and wounds to the back of his head and died at the scene. His body was found by a member of the public the following morning.
Wainwright stole Simon’s gold chain from around his neck and took his mobile phone in the attack. Neither item has ever been recovered.
The killer drove home, captured arriving back at Dagnam Road, Arbourthorne, at 11.37pm by CCTV. He went to bed after re-watching part of his favourite film Deep Blue Sea, a movie about giant killer sharks.
In the hours and days after the murder, Wainwright attempted to play the part of concerned and bereaved colleague – offering to visit the scene to find out information for fellow workers and even buying a wreath to lay at the playing fields.
He spoke of his bond with Simon and their shared love of football, as well as their plans to go fishing together.
But his odd behaviour soon led to police identifying him as the prime suspect.
In the days after the murder, Wainwright visited a number of pubs where he made a series of increasingly bizarre claims about Simon’s killing – including that the culprit was a gypsy and the attacker had used a Samurai sword.
But he also let slip to acquaintances details of the murder that only the killer could have known, including Simon’s gold chain and mobile phone being stolen.
Wainwright also made 14 visits to the murder scene and was seen by a police officer on one occasion crouching by a bush at 10pm the day after the killing.
A pair of gloves with Wainwright’s DNA were found some weeks later in the same bush.
On the day after the killing, Wainwright also visited UK Bullion on Ecclesall Road where he was caught on camera selling a piece of jewellery the prosecution said was Simon’s gold chain.
Wainwright claimed it was actually a bracelet he had bought from a ‘smackhead’ and he was not aware of the shop’s policy of melting down items within 24 hours.
When he first gave a witness statement to police on January 7 last year, Wainwright insisted he had driven straight home from work, getting home at 11.05pm.
After CCTV emerged of Wainwright’s car arriving home at 11.37pm – 42 minutes after he set off from work on a journey that normally lasts under 10 minutes, the killer initially insisted it was not his vehicle and not him seen on the footage going into his house.
He then gave ‘no comment’ interviews to police before claiming in his trial that during the missing minutes he had been parked on a side-road drinking lager and listening to music while thinking ‘sombre thoughts’ about his late partner Alison Platt, who had died of cancer five years before.
Wainwright said he had not told police about this as he only remembered it after being charged and was also concerned about being prosecuted for drink-driving.
But the police and prosecution were able to produce CCTV footage of the road, taken from the 120 bus on which Simon took his final journey, which clearly showed Wainwright’s car was not there.
Despite his story collapsing, Wainwright continued to insist during his trial that he was ‘very good friends’ with Simon and had nothing to do with the killing.
But a jury at Teesside Crown Court yesterday rejected his lies as he was finally found guilty of murder, 18 months after he senselessly killed Simon in ‘revenge’ for a minor disagreement about a forgotten wallet.
WORKMATE MURDER - READ THE EVIDENCE FROM THE TRIAL: