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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Thomas George & Cheryl Mullin

Drug dealing nan stabbed to death after storming home to collect £120 debt

A nan who stormed into a house in an attempt to collect a £120 cannabis debt was stabbed to death in an act of 'self-defence', a coroner has ruled.

Debbie Twist, 47, along with her son and another man burst through the back door and into the house on Manchester Road, Leigh, to recover the debt which was owed by the householder's son. The gang descended on the house on the evening of March 17, 2019 wearing masks and wielding a hammer and machete.

An inquest at Bolton Coroner's Court heard the victim - whose pregnant partner was also at home at the time - stabbed Ms Twist in the chest as he tried to fend off an attack. She suffered 'a single stab wound' and died from her injury in hospital that same day.

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In a statement, Ms Twist's daughter, Bethany, described her mum as a 'sociable' and 'well-liked' person who volunteered at a number of charities.

On the afternoon of March 17, Bethany said she, her mum and others had gone out to celebrate her brother Jordan Winstanley's birthday at the Canal Turn pub in Leigh. After enjoying a few drinks, they headed to a nearby bar before returning home at about 6pm.

Bethany said she had arranged to visit a man to collect a debt he owed, but her mum said she would go and retrieve the money instead.

The inquest heard on Friday (June 9) that Ms Twist and others first visited the man's address at 7pm but returned home after knocking and receiving no response. However, Ms Twist went back to the house along with Winstanley and another man, Robbie Arnold, later that evening.

Cole Dunphy told the inquest he drove the group to the property after Arnold asked him for a lift. When he arrived at Ms Twist's home in Devon Street, he said Arnold was wearing a balaclava and carrying a 'large airgun'. He said he assumed the group also had knives as he heard Arnold say he would stab 'anyone who gets in the way'.

Mr Dunphy said Arnold ordered him to take the group to the house in Manchester Road, where they were going to 'rob a cannabis grow'. He said he agreed as he was 'scared' he may get stabbed if he refused.

Mr Dunphy said he waited in his car while Ms Twist, Arnold and Winstanley approached the property. When they again received no response at the address, the group made their way to the back of the property.

Mr Dunphy told the inquest he then heard a door being kicked in, as well as a number of bangs and some shouting. A man then came out of the property shouting "they've killed her, they've killed her", he said.

After being stabbed in the chest by the homeowner - the dad of the man who allegedly owed the debt - Ms Twist collapsed at the scene. Bethany Twist arrived at the property after hearing her mum had been stabbed and found her lying on the ground. She said: "There was blood everywhere. Mum wasn't moving talking or breathing."

Paramedics attended and Ms Twist was taken to Salford Royal Hospital, where she was pronounced dead later that evening.

Following the attack, a neighbour found a large machete on a roof at the rear of his home. The homeowner's DNA was found on the knife, the inquest heard. A blood stained-claw hammer was found near to Ms Twist's body while police also seized a paintball gun.

In a statement, the homeowner said the incident had 'changed his life for the worse forever' and he continues to suffer flashbacks several years later.

Describing the impact of her mum's death, Bethany said: "I still can't believe my mum has gone. It feels like I have lost half of myself. We used to do everything together."

She added: "Every day I'm waiting for her to come through the door or call me and say she will be home for dinner."

Recording a narrative conclusion, coroner Timothy Brennand said: "Debbie Twist died as a consequence of a single fatal stab wound to the chest delivered in an episode of purported lawful self-defence."

Mr Brennand described Ms Twist's death as 'a sad and harrowing case' and said there was 'a lot of background' to the incident.

He added: "Whatever the rights and wrongs of that background, a relatively young woman, a mother, somebody who had many positive qualities to her life, was to sustain a fatal injury."

Last December, Jordan Winstanley was jailed for six years and four months after being found guilty of aggravated burglary in connection with the incident.

Bolton Crown Court heard Ms Twist and Winstanley ran a small drugs ring with Robbie Arnold, Bethany Twist and Bethany's partner, Adam Guy.

Arnold was cleared of aggravated burglary by a jury but was found guilty of possessing an imitation firearm and sentenced to two years and four months behind bars.

Guy, of Turner Street in Leigh, was given a six month prison sentence suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to the supply of cannabis. He was also ordered to undertake 15 rehabilitation requirement activity days, a six month drug rehabilitation course and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

Bethany Twist, of Devon Street in Leigh, was given a six month prison sentence suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to the supply of cannabis.


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