‘Devastating’ punch killed young dad court hears

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A young Luton plasterer who got into a street fight with another man in Luton town centre died after a “devastating punch” landed on his jaw, a jury was told yesterday.

Irishman Kevin Kelly fell heavily face down on the ground, not even putting his hands out to break his fall, a court heard

Police officers who were quickly on the scene in Upper George Street found he had stopped breathing and immediately set about trying to resuscitate the young father.

Prosecutor Peter Shaw told Luton crown court the efforts of the police in the early hours of May 1 last year were to “prove fruitless” and later that day doctors treating him in hospital declared him to be brain dead and life support support was discontinued.

Richard Wood, 24, who it’s said threw the punch that morning has pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter.

Mr Shaw told the jury: “The crown’s case is that this defendant threw a series of punches, one of which proved to be fatal”.

He described it as a “devastating punch” and said a post mortem on Kevin concluded the cause of his death to be a “subarachnoid haemorrhage.”

The bleeding said Mr Shaw, had been caused by the impact of the blow to the victim’s left jaw, causing a sudden rotating of Mr Kelly’s head and twisting of his neck and that had caused to arteries at the base of his skull to tear.

He said the sudden jet of blood over the “critical brain structures” had lead to Mr Kelly suffering a cardiac arrest from which he never recovered.

The jury was told how on Saturday April 30 last year Kevin a father of one, originally from Killkenny in Ireland had been out in Luton town centre socialising.

He had, said Mr Shaw, a “few drinks” that night and the jury heard at around 5am on the morning of Sunday May 1 came out of the After 8 Nightclub.

The court heard Mr Kelly was seen to stroke a dog that was with a group of Polish men outside the club and then began making his way along Upper George Street.

Judge Michael Kay QC hearing the case was told that coming in the opposite direction towards Kevin Kelly was Luton man Mr Wood who was walking with a friend.

“There was an exchange of words between Mr Kelly and Mr Wood as they past. Whatever was said Mr Kelly threw a punch at Mr Wood. It was followed by Wood throwing several punches towards Kelly,” said Mr Shaw.

He said that six or seven punches were thrown between the two men and he went on:”Mr Kelly fell face first to the ground without, tellingly, putting his hand out to stop or break his fall.”

The court was told Mr Wood left the scene, but he was arrested a short while later at the junction of Dunstable Road and Liverpool Road.

Mr Shaw said in an interview with police, Mr Wood who now lives in London Road, Bognor Regis, claimed it was Mr Kelly who had attacked him first and he had retaliated by trying to punch him.

The prosecutor said the defendant was claiming he had used reasonable self defence and when he struck the blow had been acting in self defence.

He said Mr Kelly may have well thrown the first punch, but it was the crown’s case that when Mr Wood threw the “fatal punch” he could not have been acting in self defence.

Jordan Jones who had been walking with Mr Wood that morning said as they walked towards Mr Kelly he noticed that he was “staring at us”.

He said he had felt uncomfortable and then noticed he appeared to be looking more at Mr Wood that himself.

Mr Jordan who took no part in the fight that morning, said as they passed Mr Kelly, he (Kelly) turned his head so he continued to stare at them.

He said it was then that Mr Wood said to the man “What are you looking at?” and it was then that Mr Kelly went up to him and punched him.

Mr Jordan said he thought a total of around ten punches were thrown between the men but then said it could have seven or eight.

But he said many were not “clean punches”

He said the last punch was thrown by Mr Wood landing on Mr Kelly’s face.

Mr Jordan said with that the fight came to an end and he decided to leave the scene because others on the street thought he had been involved.

Case proceeding