Man jailed for the death of his best friend

05/10/2016

A man who killed his best friend with a single punch has been sentenced to 28 months in jail.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Richard Eveleigh, 62, punched Paul Lightowler, 60, in an argument following the Europa Cup Football Final on 18 May 2016.

The two men had been friends for over 40 years and were both dedicated Liverpool FC fans. They'd been watching their team in the final on a big screen at the Liverpool Echo Arena.

They'd had a meal and around four pints of beer each in a bar before going to Arena, then had a further two pints while there.

Liverpool FC was beaten by Seville in the game and afterwards, the two men and some other friends and family went into the city centre for a few more drinks.

The two men had begun arguing and continued arguing as they made their way to 'Patterson's Bar'. CCTV showed the men entering the bar with their friends and then Mr Lightowler is seen leaving.

He is followed shortly after by Eveleigh who is then seen to punch Lightowler once to the left side of his face with his right hand.

Lightowler then fell backwards and cracked the back of his head on the road, knocking him unconscious.

Eveleigh later told police that he heard a "dull thud" as his friend hit the floor and that he then went numb and into a state of shock as he realised what he had done.

He told officers that he was mortified and hadn't meant to injure his friend. He admitted he was drunk but said he was still in control of his actions.

Mr Lightowler was not able to be interviewed and was taken to hospital but he never regained consciousness and died in hospital nine days later, on 27 May 2016.

A pathologist said Mr Lightowler had died due to an assault by "blunt impact trauma" which made him fall backwards, causing internal brain injuries which he later died from.

Eveleigh pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Neil Audley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Paul Lightowler's sister Clare Bowe described the circumstances in which her brother died as 'simply tragic'.

"Her family has been traumatised by the incident due to the close relationship they shared with both men.

"She said that going to the game was a big part of life for the two men and her son who went with them. The family have maintained their friendship with Eveleigh and supported him at court and will now after sentence.

"Richard Eveleigh has always admitted his culpability for what had happened and it was decided that it was in the public interest to bring this prosecution.

"It is hoped that in doing so it will raise awareness of the possible fatal consequences that can follow seemingly minor assaults and so deter others."