Man jailed for single punch manslaughter - Dunstable

20/05/2016

A clubber, who killed a man with a single punch in a case that was featured on TV's 24 hours in Police Custody, has today, Friday, 20 May 2016, been jailed for 4 years.

Cortney Batchelor, aged 21, attacked Tomas Juska after he had been flirting with his barmaid girlfriend and had given her his phone number.

Batchelor, a civil engineer, was told by Judge Richard Foster that the tragedy could have easily been avoided. He said: "All you would have had to have done was to have gone straight home when you left the club at closing time. If you had done so, Tomas Juska would be alive and you would not be facing a term of imprisonment for manslaughter. As much as you might like to you cannot re-write history and you must now face the consequences for your behaviour."

Luton Crown Court had heard how the two men, who were not known to each other, were out enjoying a Saturday night at Club Cookies in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, on 22 August last year. Batchelor's new girlfriend was working behind the bar, and Tomas Juska, a 24-year-old Lithuanian, who was desbribed as 'happy drunk' was chatting her up. The Judge said that had clearly "irritated" Batchelor.

Door staff were aware of the tension and were trying to hold the Lithuanian back until Batchelor and his friends had left the area, but they got diverted to another incident.

The Judge said: "You, with your group around you, went up to Tomas and goaded him. You knew full well that he was no threat to you and yet you punched him with such force that his legs crumpled beneath him. His head then hit the ground with a sickening thud resulting in the catastrophic injuries that caused his death. Then you and your group ran off laughing. Every life is of infinite value and as a result of your conduct another young man's life has come to an end."

Batchelor, who had never been in trouble with the police before, had maintained at his trial that he believed he was about to be punched and was acting in self defence. He was found guilty by a jury of manslaughter last month, but the Judge said he was still 'in denial' about his conduct.

A victim impact statement made by Tomas' brother was read to the court. He told how the young man's death had impacted on the family, especially their parents in Lithuania. "I think about him every day of my life," the statement read. "I do not blame the person who punched him but I am angry and upset that he was killed in such a way."

Robert English defending Batchelor said: "This is a very tragic case indeed for all concerned. But for what happened on that fateful eveing Tomas Juska would be with us and Cortney Batchelor would not be facing a prison sentence. This was out of character, and the consequences were not intended and not expected. He is deeply sorry and will be for the rest of his life." The barrister revealed that Batchelor's girlfriend had stood by him and was now expecting his child.

Batchelor, of Paisley Close, Luton, was arrested hours after the incident initially for assault causing grievous bodily harm (GBH). But Tomas was in a coma from which he never recovered. The TV programme showed the charge being changed at first to murder and later reduced to manslaughter.

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