A FLINTSHIRE doorman who punched a man and broke his neck has been found guilty at a re-trial.
Philip Hughes, 39, was found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm upon Andrew Boyd Smith, 37, of Blacon, by a jury at Warrington Crown Court yesterday.
Hughes, who has worked as a doorman in Chester for the past 22 years, will be sentenced by Judge Roger Dutton on February 14.
At the re-trial, a jury of 11 women and one man heard how Hughes delivered a single punch to Mr Smith outside Jacks Chip Shop on Frodsham Street, Chester.
The court was told Mr Smith, deputy manager of a city bookmakers, suffered a fracture to his fourth vertebrae and was left needing a head, neck and body brace for three-and-a-half months as a result of the blow landed by Hughes.
Hughes, of Upper Aston Hall Lane, Hawarden, claimed he acted in self-defence when he struck Mr Smith.
He claimed Mr Smith had threatened to stab him – a claim denied by the complainant – following an exchange of words between both men outside the takeaway on April 11.
During the trial the court was shown CCTV footage of the scene and the incident which happened shortly after midnight. Video evidence showed both men outside the chip shop, the alleged exchange and the punch delivered by Hughes on Mr Smith at about 12.15am.
Prior to the incident Mr Smith had finished a busy day’s trading on Grand National day before leaving work with several colleagues to go for drinks at the Temple Bar in Frodsham Street.
Defence barrister Peter Moss brought two members of staff from the bar as witnesses, who told the court Mr Smith had been escorted out of the premises shortly before he was hit by Hughes.
During a trial at Warrington Crown Court, Mr Smith said: “I have no actual memory of the incident. All I can remember is trying to lift my head and being in the Countess and nothing happened.”
He told the court that he was “still suffering” from his injuries.
Hughes had been on an evening out with brother Gary Hughes and his cousin before meeting up with Gary’s wife, Zoe, at the end of the night.
CCTV footage showed Hughes stood outside the Frodsham Street takeaway eating chicken when Mr Smith approached the scene, went in to get food, before also standing outside the takeaway leaning against a door.
Defence barrister Peter Moss claimed that Mr Smith had allegedly got involved in a conversation between Hughes, his brother and his sister-in-law and then threatened to stab Hughes outside the chip shop on more than one occasion.
However the prosecution maintained the punch was “an unnecessary act of aggression” and Mr Smith denied carrying a weapon or posing threats to Hughes.
Hughes said he “warned” Mr Smith against his threats before delivering the punch.
When asked by Judge Dutton why he hit Mr Smith, Hughes replied: “Because if someone is threatening me I want to defend myself with both hands.”
Hughes, who is Security Industry Authority trained and approved said he was in fear of his own and his family’s safety and felt under threat. He then punched Mr Smith.
Prosecution barrister Oliver King probed Smith as to why he used his “fight” and not “flight” at the time of the incident.
He added: “When someone threatens you with a knife you either walk away or you deal with it.”
Judge Dutton said: “So you used your fight and not flight instinct in this situation.” Hughes replied: “The threat made me take this course of action.”
In summing up, prosecutor Oliver King said to the jury: “It is obvious the defendant was not acting in self-defence.
"We are saying the defendant simply lost his temper and that's why he assaulted Andrew Smith. If you agree I invite you to return a guilty verdict.”
Defending Peter Moss said: “If he might have been acting in self-defence then he is entitled to be found not guilty. If you think he was possibly acting in self-defence then that is enough.”
Mr Smith was left unconscious on the pavement as a result of the blow.
The court was shown footage of Hughes being held back by his brother Gary, before entering the chip shop and asking the owners to call an ambulance for the victim.
Hughes then fled the scene with his brother and his sister-in-law in a taxi. he said: “I thought it was just an aggressive man on the floor who was drunk.”
The defendant handed himself in at Blacon Police Station on April 14, and was later charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm on April 21.
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