Mon, 24 May 2021
Phil Bradley QC and Siobhan Collins successfully defended JL, who was charged with the manslaughter of his sister’s boyfriend by restraining him in a stranglehold. In a 7-day trial at Leamington Justice Centre, a Jury unanimously acquitted JL after deliberating for just under 2 hours.
Opening the case to the Jury, Mark Heywood QC explained that the deceased (DC) had been in a long-term relationship with the defendant’s sister, KL. The couple was now estranged and there was a Court Order preventing DC from seeing the couple’s two young children. On the evening of 9th March 2019, the defendant agreed to babysit the children, so that his sister could go to a party. At just after 1 am the following morning, DC turned up at the flat unannounced, letting himself in. He was intoxicated and became abusive when the defendant asked him to leave. The defendant alerted his sister who in turn called the police. The prosecution claimed that the defendant became increasingly frustrated with DC. Losing his temper, he slapped DC who also sustained a broken nose – caused, the prosecution claimed, by a shod foot. He then restrained DC in a neck-hold, applying such pressure that by the time police arrived DC was unconscious. He was declared dead a short while later.
The defence argued that the defendant’s actions were proportionate and commensurate; he was dealing with an aggressive man who was, effectively, trespassing at the property. DC became aggressive, physically assaulting JL (proved by the pathology) and posing a threat to the children. Furthermore, the suggestion that the broken nose was caused by a shod foot was demonstrably wrong; it was much more likely caused when both men fell face-down to the floor when the defendant was attempting to restrain DC, who was becoming increasingly aggressive.
In his closing address to the Jury, Phil Bradley QC said that the evidence demonstrated that when DC went to the property his aggression was “at a simmer” and, when told to leave, “boiled over”. There was no issue that JL had caused DC’s death, which was a tragedy, “but DC’s death did not result from an unlawful act; he did not die at the hands of a criminal. He died at the hands of a babysitter desperate to contain a direct threat to himself and a potential threat to the children”. The defendant was left in an invidious position – effectively “holding a tiger by its tail” until police arrived.
Following JL’s acquittal, the trial Judge, His Honour Andrew Lockhart QC, told JL that he left the dock as a man of good character.