Man allegedly killed with single punch was ‘hit with force’, court told

Courts: Reports from the law courts.
Courts: Reports from the law courts.
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A DOCTOR told a jury that a man allegedly killed with a single punch outside a Sheffield bar was hit with “severe force” by the amateur boxer who dealt the blow.

Dad-of-two Thomas Gower, aged 26, from Gleadless Valley, died in hospital just over a week after he was punched by 20-year-old Bradley Hinkler near the Alibi bar, at the junction of Trippet Lane and Holly Street.

Hinkler denies murdering Thomas, as well as GBH with intent towards his friend Richard Howard. He admits hitting the pair, claiming the attacks were in self defence.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Hinkler dealt Thomas a right hook from behind shortly after knocking out Richard, who believed Hinkler had injured two of his pals during a brawl inside Alibi.

Dr Philip Lumb, a Home Office pathologist who carried out a post mortem examination on Thomas’ body, said he would also have been knocked out by the punch.

“You require severe force in order to render somebody unconscious,” Dr Lumb told the court.

But he said many of Thomas’ injuries were caused by him hitting the pavement, not by the punch itself.

Jurors heard Dr Lumb found a fracture which extended across the victim’s skull, finishing near his left ear. He also discovered a bruise and a graze on Thomas’ forehead, as well as a laceration over his right eyebrow and a graze underneath the lower lip.

“They would have been caused by a heavy fall to the ground - blunt force, in essence,” he said.

The doctor said Thomas’ lower jaw bone was broken, which would have been caused by Hinkler’s punch.

“This is more likely to have been caused by a direct blow from a punch,” he added.

Medics battling to save Thomas’s life in hospital removed part of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain but the surgery was unsuccessful.

“The brain continued to swell. The bit that controls the heartbeat and breathing becomes damaged,” Dr Lumb told jurors.

The doctor recorded the cause of death as head injury.

Thomas had twice the drink-drive limit of alcohol in his blood and traces of cocaine were found in his system.

Dr Lumb said the drug would have been taken a “considerable period” before the sample was taken.

Nicholas Rhodes QC, defending, said: “The blow itself is only fatal as a consequence of the head hitting the ground, not the fist hitting the head.”

Hinkler, of Kilvington Road, Woodthorpe, denies GBH with intent and murder.

The trial continues.