A judge has ruled a man who admitted the murder of a sex offender in Huddersfield cannot withdraw his guilty plea.
David Mitchell, 47 of Manchester Road, Cowlersley, was due to be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court in September having admitted in June when he appeared for trial, that he had murdered Robert Hind in December last year.
But the court was then told that Mitchell wanted to make an application to withdraw the plea.
The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC received written and oral submissions on Mitchell’s behalf in November when the defendant chose not to appear at court.
He reserved judgment until yesterday when the court was told that once again Mitchell had refused to attend the hearing.
Judge Collier told the court: “I have ruled that his guilty plea must stand.”
In a written judgment he said many defendants chose to plead guilty when their case was due for trial and having considered the arguments advanced by counsel on Mitchell’s behalf “find nothing in any of his submissions that persuades me that it would be unjust to say that this plea must now stand.”
Judge Collier said Mitchell was represented by experienced counsel and he was satisfied had not entered his plea as a result of any external pressures from the court or his advocates.
“Their reasons why defendants plead only at the last minute is not always easy to discern. Often the court senses that they realise that the day has come when they have run out of options, a jury is about to be sworn, the witnesses are present and although credit for a pleas has diminished significantly there is still the prospect of some credit for a guilty plea. What factors operate on which defendants one rarely learns.”
Judge Collier ordered the case be mentioned next month before Mr Justice Globe at Sheffield Crown Court for directions about the sentence hearing and if witnesses should be heard over issues raised in Mitchell’s basis of plea. He is not likely to be sentenced until next year.
Mitchell was charged with Mr Hind’s murder hours after human remains were found during a search of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Milnesbridge. The prosecution claim he killed Mr Hind and dismembered his body.
Click below for pictures of the search