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Manslaughter: Man jailed for four years for one-punch death

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A 65-YEAR-OLD father was killed by a single punch after being followed home by his attacker after an argument in a town pub, the Royal Court has heard.

Melvin Christopher Murphy. Picture: States of Jersey Police... (28917603)

Brian McMahon (51) pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Melvin Murphy and was yesterday sentenced to four years in prison.

Outlining the case, Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit, prosecuting, said although the two men were not good friends, they had known each other and were regular drinkers in the Robin Hood pub.

On Saturday 21 September, the court heard, the pub was hosting a karaoke night. Mr Murphy was already in the pub when the defendant came in at about 10.30pm. Witnesses said both men ‘were in good spirits, but neither appeared drunk’.

Later the landlord heard McMahon say to Mr Murphy in a raised voice: ‘this is the second time you have said that to me’. The two men continued arguing in the pub’s courtyard, the court was told. It was not clear what they were saying. There were no blows. One pub-goer broke up the situation, and the landlord told McMahon ‘to pack it in’.

Mr Murphy then left and headed home to his flat in St Mark’s Road. McMahon came back into the pub and continued drinking. The landlord told him to ‘let it go’. But, from three very brief CCTV footage clips shown to the court, it was clear McMahon later caught up with Mr Murphy outside Springfield Stadium.

He told his victim: ‘You have got to pack this up’ and punched him in the face with his left hand. Murphy fell to the ground, banging his head. The video footage shows McMahon turning his back on him and walking away.

Another drinker who had just left the pub bumped into McMahon and asked about Mr Murphy, the court heard. He was told he was ‘on the floor’. The pub-goer found him on the pavement outside Springfield Stadium car park. He was unresponsive but still breathing. He put him into the recovery position and called 999.

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Mr Murphy was taken to hospital but never regained consciousness. According to a post-mortem, he had suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. Addressing the court, Advocate Maletroit said the incident was ‘a harrowing reminder that serious injury or death can result from minor violence’. He called for four years in prison.

Advocate James Bell, defending, said his client admitted punching the victim but did not realise the consequences of the ‘single blow’. He walked away from the scene because he was not aware Mr Murphy had hit his head or ‘of the severity of the situation’. He told the court he felt four years was too severe a punishment.

Delivering the court’s sentence, the Bailiff Tim Le Cocq said the ‘tragic situation’ could not be described as accidental, and was ‘a direct result of violence’. Addressing McMahon he said: ‘You did not have to follow him home, you did not have to call him, you did not have to hit him. You left the scene. You simply walked away’.

In sentencing, the court said they had also taken into consideration impact statements read to the court from Mr Murphy’s partner of 17 years and his son, saying how they had been ‘left devastated by his death’. His partner added: ‘The ironic thing about this is if he [Melvin] had survived this he would have forgiven him [McMahon], that is the sort of person he was.’

Jurats Anthony Olsen, Charles Blampied and Joanne Averty were sitting.

Following the sentencing, Detective Inspector Christina MacLennan, head of the States police’s Serious Crime Unit, said: ‘This was a tragic case of a violent assault which resulted in Mr Murphy dying from his injuries. Our thoughts are with Mr Murphy’s family, who have been supported throughout the investigation by specially trained family liaison officers.’

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