RELATIVES of a former Sheffield amateur boxer jailed for murder are holding a fundraising fight night to support an appeal against his conviction.
Bradley Hinkler, aged 20, of Kilvington Road, Woodthorpe, is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 16 years behind bars for killing 26-year-old father-of-two Thomas Gower, from Herdings, last December.
But the event has created some unease within the city’s boxing fraternity about the sport being used to help a convicted killer.
One said: “I don’t think it is a good idea. Boxing was portrayed in a negative light during Hinkler’s trial and holding an event like this does it no favours.”
Hinkler’s family and friends, who held a protest after he was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court in August, believe he should have been found guilty of manslaughter and received a shorter sentence.
They have lodged an appeal against the sentence and are preparing an appeal against both the murder conviction and a separate conviction for grievous bodily harm with intent after Hinkler knocked a second man, Richard Howard, unconscious.
The fundraising boxing show, involving amateur fighters, is being held at the former ice arena on Queens Road, on Friday evening.
It is being organised by Hinkler’s cousin Luke Smedley, 23, also from Woodthorpe, the brother of professional boxer Nikki Smedley.
Mr Smedley said: “We’ve done other fundraising events. It’s a charity show which is all above board and will be properly run. There will be doormen, paramedics and we are having a proper referee, all of which we’ve paid for.”
Hinkler’s father Nigel Hinkler added: “It’s going to be a fun event and not taken too seriously. We need to raise funds to support the appeal and I don’t want my son to rot in prison.”
The family say they have new evidence which they wish to put before an appeal, including that Hinkler has an autistic-related condition meaning he does not act appropriately to some situations.
They also repeated the claim, made in his defence in court, that Mr Gower was holding a broken bottle and Hinkler acted in self defence.
Hinkler’s family say they need to raise money because they parted company with lawyers originally handling the appeal, who were hired with legal aid, and do not qualify for legal aid when using a second firm.
Mr Gower died in hospital last Boxing Day, eight days after the attack outside Alibi bar, on Holly Street, in the city centre on December 18.
His fiancee Emma Redfern declined to comment about the show.
Sentencing the former amateur boxer, Judge Simon Lawler said his behaviour on the night was ‘callous beyond belief’.
He said of the attack on Mr Gower: “It was a quite unnecessary and cowardly attack on a defenceless man.”
The judge said the impression given to the public by Hinkler’s supporters after the jury’s verdict did not “give the full picture”.
It was very different from the ‘one punch scenario’ which results in death and is often charged as manslaughter.
He said: “Extensive, independent eyewitness accounts clearly showed you, Bradley Hinkler, for some reason or reasons were on that night in a violent and ugly mood.”
When arrested Hinkler claimed he was elsewhere, then said he acted in self-defence because Mr Howard was holding a bottle and he believed Mr Gower was going to get a knife.