Court hears fatal car park punch was self defence

Reporter:

Elwyn Roberts

A MAN out celebrating his baby’s birth was punched in a Wrexham pub car park at the end of the night and died after fracturing his skull, a court was told.

Witnesses heard a “sickening thud” as Neil Graham Edwards’s head struck the concrete floor.

He suffered a fractured skull from which he never recovered.

Nine days later, Mr Edwards was dead from a massive brain injury, a manslaughter trial jury was told at Mold Crown Court yesterday.

Paul Michael Humphreys, 35, of Penrhyn Drive, in Gwersyllt near Wrexham, denies manslaughter and assaulting Mr Edwards’s brother Wayne on the same night.

Humphreys claims self-defence, but the prosecution say he unlawfully killed Mr Edwards, 39, during the incident on the rear car park of the Acton Park Hotel, Wrexham, on September 26.

The father-of-three died at Walton Neurological Centre in Liverpool on October 5, despite surgery and attempts to save him, shortly before his 40th birthday.

David Potter, prosecuting told the jury there had been some banter between Humphreys and his group at the bar, and the Edwards party who were seated at a table during the evening.

That banter, he said, was friendly and non-malicious.

Evidently, Humphreys did not take it that way because when the two Edwards brothers left he immediately followed, as was shown on the pub’s CCTV system.

He went outside, shouted after them, and had his arms up in front of him in an aggressive stance, Mr Potter alleged.

Words were exchanged and Neil Edwards walked towards Humphreys and asked what his problem was, in a non-threatening manner, Mr Potter said.

He added: “With this, the defendant suddenly and without warning and without any provocation whatsoever, punched Mr Edwards to the face with his right hand.

“It connected and it immediately sent Mr Edwards straight back.


“He hit his head on the concrete surface of the pub car park.

“A witness who saw this happen thought that Mr Edwards was already unconscious before he hit the floor.

“There was a sickening thud and Mr Edwards suffered a fractured skull that caused massive injuries to the brain and proved fatal.”

Mr Potter said that for a few moments after he had struck that fatal blow, Humphreys continued to be aggressive and violent, and assaulted Wayne Edwards by punching him once to the face.

He finally calmed down when the defendant realised that the deceased had suffered a serious injury, he peered over the unconscious body and asked whether he was alright, before leaving the car park.

The jury heard Humphreys and the Edwards brothers knew each other.

Wayne Edwards had previously worked with Humphreys and they had also trained together in boxing clubs.

The court also heard Neil Edwards was the middle of three brothers and had married his wife Dawn in 1994.

For the last seven years he had worked at Airbus in Broughton and was the proud father of a son aged nine, a daughter aged five and a son who was born on September 12 last year – 13 days before the assault that led to Mr Edwards’ death.

“Indeed the whole reason why Mr Edwards went out that night to the Acton Park Hotel was to celebrate with his friends and family that baby’s arrival,” Mr Potter said.

The trial before Judge John Rogers QC continues.
 

See full story in the Leader

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