Disclaimer: Some may find the details of this story distressing.
On June 25th, 2005, the 11 year old Dean Pike burned to death in his home in Hendon, scarring the city with one of the most horrific ordeals it had experienced so far in the turn of the new century. His mother, six months pregnant at the time, barely survived the ordeal. Responsible were two men, Terry Majinusz and Neil English, who had arson attacked the home in the early hours of the morning. It might make you wonder, what convinces any human being to commit such an evil and reprehensible act? And how did this awful tragedy Occur? Here in the latest installment of our “Dark sunderland” series, covering the darkest and most horrifying aspects of our city’s history, we explore this legacy.
Dean Pike was a normal and loveable young man, who lived an ordinary childhood. A fan of SAFC, he was as typical and innocent as any boy his age, without a bad bone in his body. He had wrote in a letter, just days before his death “I am very happy with all the people in the world that don’t go around killing other people for no reason” and pleaded to God to “Please change the awful things in life and keep the good stuff running”. Unfortunately, his kind and warm outlook on the world was not shared by everyone…
Elsewhere in Sunderland, living on Chester Road was a man named Terry Majinusz. At the age of 40, he started dating an 18 year old girl from Hendon, a sign of his reprehensible nature. As one might expect, the family of this young woman didn’t appreciate the situation and soon cut the relationship off. Terry in his bidding genius (A judge later found he had an IQ of just 81), did not think to correct his inappropriate ways and act his age, but came up with the awful scheme of planning to go to Hendon and torching down the family home of his ex-girlfriend as an act of bitter revenge. To do it, he required Neil English, a man who lived on the same street who happened to have an Arson conviction, and made their plot.
The murderous scheme of course wasn’t very well planned or executed. They arrived in Mordey Close, Hendon, on the early hours of the morning. One of them not thinking ahead, casually lit up a cigarette and dumped it by the roadside, leaving DNA evidence which would seal their fate later on. Approaching the House, they then proceeded to pour liter fuel through the letter box, set the home on fire and then fled, leaving the empty can nearby. It created a blazing inferno which reached up to 1000 degrees. For Dean upstairs, there was no escape. Trapped, he perished and was found on the landing, partially cremated.
His mother was blown through a window by an explosion, fracturing her skull and causing bleeding on the brain. The ordeal rendered her unconscious for a week and in intensive care for longer. The baby also survived, who is now 16 years old, growing up with the memory and pain of how his big brother was lost, of whom he never got to meet.
Circumstantial evidence soon led police to the two killers, most specifically that which they had left behind on the street. Both denied their guilt and blamed each other, with Terry claiming he was in Mordey close on that night to give another man “a hiding” and was not responsible for it. A third man was also accused, but acquitted. Not surprisingly, neither’s lies were convincing and the two were found guilty, first of the murder of Dean Pike, and then secondly grievous bodily harm of his mother. Both were given life sentences with a demand they serve up to 25 and 22 years. Dean’s grandfather, Derek Crone commented after, that : “Nothing will ever bring Dean back but we are very, very pleased with the length of the sentences. “It is better than hanging them, as they will now slowly rot in prison and they deserve every second of the sentences they got.”
Thus closes one of Sunderland’s most horrific ordeals. Dean’s funeral was met with hundreds of mourners throughout the city and red and white floral tributes with a service at St. Peter’s Church. He is buried in Mere Knolls Cemetery, Fulwell.