Man who killed off-duty soldier jailed for five years

02/08/2010

A man who admitted killing an off-duty soldier and assaulting his wife in an unprovoked street attack has been jailed for five years.

Michael Ridley pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Staff Sergeant Chris Chacksfield in Newcastle City Centre in May. Chris and his wife Adele had been out with friends when they encountered Ridley, who was high on drink and drugs.

The 22 year old lashed out at the couple, resulting in Chris suffering severe head injuries from which he would never recover. Adele was knocked unconscious. Ridley then walked away and was arrested an hour later after being spotted by a police officer.

Adele, an army nurse, had only recently returned to the UK from Afghanistan. The couple have a young daughter.

Ridley has admitted the assault on Adele.

Commenting after the sentence, Gerry Sydenham, Senior District Crown Prosecutor for CPS Northumbria said:

"Chris was a fine soldier, a much loved husband and devoted father. He served his country in some of the most dangerous places on earth. It wasn't war that claimed his life, but a violent drug user who's inflicted tragedy upon this young innocent family.

"Ridley's attack was cowardly and completely unprovoked. Chris and Adele had the terrible misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. To compound the callous nature of this attack, as both Chris and Adele lay unconscious on the ground, Ridley simply walked away."