Boxer claims his ‘devastating’ attack on man was in self-defence

Thomas Gower - killed in attack outside Alibi bar in sheffield city centre on December 18, 2010
Thomas Gower - killed in attack outside Alibi bar in sheffield city centre on December 18, 2010
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One punch killed dad, 26

A BOXER from Sheffield killed a dad-of-two with a ‘devastating’ single punch after knocking out another man outside a city bar, a court heard.

Bradley Hinkler, aged 20, of Kilvington Road, Woodthorpe, is accused of murdering 26-year-old Thomas Gower, from Gleadless Valley, by dealing a fatal blow near the Alibi bar, at the junction of Trippet Lane and Holly Street.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Thomas was probably unconscious even before he hit the ground, and suffered massive head injuries after the violent attack.

Minutes before, Hinkler had knocked out Thomas’s friend Richard Howard, who also believed the amateur boxer was responsible for injuring two of his pals in a brawl inside Alibi.

Nick Clarke QC, prosecuting, said a witness described Hinkler as a ‘predator going out for another kill’ when he chased after Thomas and threw a right hook to the side of his face from behind.

Thomas died from his injuries at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital on Boxing Day last year, more than a week after the attack late on December 18.

Mr Clarke said: “Mr Gower never even saw the fatal blow coming. The defendant chased him down and attacked him from the rear in a cowardly way.”

He told the court Thomas and Richard were enjoying a night at Alibi on December 18 with friends Barry Smith and Mark Cullen and that Hinkler arrived at the bar with his friend Reagan Denton at around 10.15pm.

Mr Clarke said Hinkler trained almost daily at the Steel City Gym in Heeley and was a ‘fit and active’ boxer.

He said: “Although only a medium build he packs a powerful punch.”

Mr Clarke said fighting broke out on the dancefloor, and that Hinkler joined in.

He said: “As a result of the disturbance Barry and Mark were both injured. Thomas and Richard couldn’t have been involved – they were in a different area of the bar some distance away. The defendant and Mr Denton then went towards the exit.”

Barry, Mark and Richard were associated with a group called the Blades Business Crew, or BBC – a notorious gang of football hooligans associated with Sheffield United – Mr Clarke said.

He said: “As a group they would have refused to cower in the face of the assault.”

Thomas and his friends left the bar and encountered Hinkler outside.

Mr Clarke said Mark and Richard were ‘verbally aggressive’ before Hinkler punched Richard in the face.

He said: “The punch was so powerful it knocked Richard off his feet. He remained unconscious for several minutes.”

The court heard Hinkler said ‘That’s what I’m talking about’ and ‘Don’t mess with me’ after landing the blow.

“Thomas held out his hands saying ‘I ain’t involved in this’. He then turned and ran and the defendant chased him,” Mr Clarke said.

“He caught up with Thomas who was still running away. He then dealt a right hook. Witnesses described the blow as devastating. His victim appeared unconscious before he hit the floor.”

Hinkler was seen smirking as he walked back to his friends, Mr Clarke added.

Thomas suffered a fractured eye socket, a broken jaw, skull fractures and severe brain swelling.

Hinkler was arrested on December 22 for assault, but was charged with murder after Thomas died.

He made no comment in interview and initially claimed to be elsewhere. He later said he acted in self-defence because Richard was holding a bottle and he believed Thomas was going to get a knife.

Hinkler denies assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and murder.

The trial continues.