A coroner has ruled that Luton dad Henry Huggins – who died in a coma nearly two years after a brutal assault in 2013 – was unlawfully killed.
Mr Huggins’ family wiped away tears of emotion as the conclusion was announced at the inquest in Ampthill this afternoon.
The 49-year-old died on June 10, 2015 at Sue Ryder Care Home in Hitchin nearly two years after the attack in August 2013, having never regained consciousness.
The announcement also casts doubt on the convictions on at least one of his two assailants, who may face further charges.
Speaking after the verdict, Mr Huggins’ son Tyrone told reporters it was “some sort of justice”.
Mr Huggins’ twin sister Angela added: “It’s been one of the hardest things we’ve had to go through.
“We’re still fighting on because we need to get justice, this is to our advantage now.
“It’s not just anger, it’s pain, hurt and we still have shock. We’re grieving and it’s still a shock for me.”
On August 8, 2013, Mr Huggins entered a block of flats in Whipperley Ring, Luton, where he was confronted by Stuart Docherty and James Early.
Det Insp Fraser Wylie told the inquest: “Henry received a number of punches to his head by James Early which caused him to come through the communal door and fall backwards on to the concrete pavement outside.
“Stuart Docherty then proceeded to run, jump and stamp on top of Henry’s head. There were items stolen whilst Henry lay on the floor.”
Docherty pleaded guilty to inflicting grevious bodily harm and was jailed for 17 years in November 2014.
James Early was convicted of wounding causing actual bodily harm and sentenced to two and a half years.
In view of Mr Huggins’ death, Det Insp Wylie said: “Certainly, Mr Docherty may face further charges.”
A postmortem found that Mr Huggins died of complications arising from being in a persistent vegetative state.
A home office pathologist stated there was evidence of severe and widespread brain damage “in keeping with the consequences of a severe head injury in August 2013”.
In reaching his conclusion, senior coroner Tom Osborne said: “Is there sufficient evidence in which a jury would convict of murder and manslaughter? I’m satisifed there is such evidence.
“The overwhelming evidence is that Henry had died as a result of the assault ... and therefore Henry was unlawfully killed. That is my conclusion.”