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Senior Investigating Officer Bob Tonge said: The court heard how Paul and his friend James Falconer were set upon and assaulted by a gang armed with weapons whilst walking in Clifton in March 2005. Paul, originally from Eccles, had spent the day with his mum (Susan) and partner as well as a friend in the Newmarket pub in Swinton until around 7.30pm. At 8.10pm calls were made to police from two different women saying that there was a man being attacked close to the Lord Nelson pub. Officers arrived at the scene shortly after whereupon they found Paul on the ground suffering from severe head injuries, Paul was found alone, no one else was in the area known locally as the Sandy Path. Paul spent a week in hospital before sadly succumbing to his injuries, leaving behind a girlfriend who was pregnant with his twin children, who have both sadly had to grow up without ever knowing meeting their father. New evidence emerged as a witness came forward with vital information that helped secure the convictions. Paul Croft's mother has spoken about her heartache at the loss of her son as his killers are jailed 12 years on from his murder, saying: Our thoughts are with Paul's family and his children today as justice has finally been served upon those who stole him away from them by inhumanely cutting short his life.
James Paul Wilde, 28, residing at Rake Lane, Swinton stood in the dock at Manchester & Salford Magistrates court today, charged with the historic 11 year old murder of Paul Croft in an alleyway alongside the Lord Nelson Pub in Pendlebury. On the 31st of March 2005 police received a call that Paul had been found beaten battered and with severe head injuries, whereupon he was rushed to Manchester Royal (Hope), sadly dying of his injuries a week later aged just 19 years old and having tragically never met his twin sons who were born just three months later. Several arrests were made at the time but none of them resulted in charges being made despite several appeals to the public for information and (GMP) offering a £50,000 reward in 2010. Prosecutor Eileen Rogers told the court that his appearance was relating to murder charges from 2005 and that it would need to be referred for a future date at Crown court. Wilde was then remanded in custody as the case was adjourned until his appearance at Crown on November 14th. Wilde had previously been arrested in March 2005 and February 2006, a police spokesman said. This latest arrest comes after a reopening of this 'Cold Case' and a fresh look at the evidence. As Mr Wilde was lead away a female could be heard weeping, he shouted up to the Gallery "I'll ring you tonight'. 11 years is a long time for any family to wait for justice but they never gave up fighting, nor did they give up hope of finally bringing Paul's killer to justice. This is a further step along the way.