A MURDERER who brutally beat a Bury man to death in his own home has been jailed.

Edward Fitzgerald, aged 50, of Walmersley Road, was sentenced to life behind bars today after pleading guilty to the murder of 50-year-old David Raymond Dixon.

He will serve a minimum of 23 years before being considered for release.

Three other men were also jailed for a combined total of 20 years for their role in Mr Dixon's death.

Manchester Crown Court heard how on February 11, Fitzgerald visited Mr Dixon’s home in Myrtle Street North, along with Lee Hopkinson and Anthony Dennison, with the intention of robbing him.

Once inside the address, he began brutally attacking Mr Dixon – known to friends as Ray – and repeatedly hit him as he lay on the ground injured.

While Fitzgerald was leading the assault, Hopkinson and Dennison carried out their search of the property, and retrieved a bike, a large flat screen TV and other items.

The trio then left the scene, leaving Ray mortally wounded on the living room floor.

A Home Office post mortem confirmed that he died from a head injury inflicted by blunt force trauma. The examination found no obvious evidence of any defensive injuries.

After stashing the TV behind some bushes on Parsonage Close, the three men then met up with a man, who took them to a property on Heyside Way.

At the address, Dean Murray then helped them wash their clothes in an attempt to clean the blood off.

Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe, of GMP’s Major Incident Support Unit, said: “Ray Dixon’s needless death was a tragedy which understandably devastated his loved ones. He died alone after being attacked in the most brutal fashion in his own home, which is a place where somebody should feel safest.

“Whilst Fitzgerald may have inflicted the fatal blows that killed Ray, the supporting role played by his co-defendants Hopkinson, Dennison and Murray cannot be ignored and they absolutely deserved to be stood in the dock alongside him receiving a prison sentence.

“I hope today’s result will leave Ray’s family with a feeling of justice now that those responsible for his death have been jailed.”

The sentences for the other three men are as follows:

Lee Hopkinson, aged 30, of no fixed address, was jailed for 13 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Anthony Dennison, aged 45, of no fixed address, was jailed for five years after pleading guilty to robbery.

Dean Murray, aged 50, of Heyside Drive, Bury, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Following Mr Dixon's death, his half-brother, David Jones, described him as a "loveable rogue".

He revealed that Mr Dixon had been living at the property for around two months. Prior to that, he had lived in a number of places, including Bolton and Cumbria.

Mr Dixon was the father of two daughters, both in their twenties, and had 13 siblings and half-siblings.