Thug who punched man to death jailed

James Walker, jailed for killing 55-year-old Alan Cartwright.
James Walker, jailed for killing 55-year-old Alan Cartwright.
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A KILLER who caused the death of a South Yorkshire dad-of-two by punching him twice in the face has been jailed for four years.

Alan Cartwright was discovered by his daughter dead on the living room floor of his house on Darton Lane, Mapplewell, Barnsley, after he was dealt the fatal blows by 27-year-old James Walker.

Walker launched the punches in a rage when Alan, aged 55, refused to sell him drugs without an upfront payment.

Mr Cartwright – whom the court heard was a well-known local drug dealer who also took prescribed blood-thinning medication, warfarin – was thrown to the floor, hitting his head on a refrigerator and suffering a brain haemorrhage which led to his death last April.

Sentencing, Mr Justice Peter Openshaw, told Sheffield Crown Court the attack was ‘entirely unprovoked’ and ‘delivered in frustration’.

He said Walker was a ‘fit 27-year-old’, while Mr Cartwright was a long-standing drug abuser, frail and in poor health.

Mr Openshaw said: “The punches, frail as he was, did not need to be very hard.

“I accept he might not have died if he had not been on Warfarin, but assailants must take their victims as they find them.” The judge told the court Walker had previous convictions with ‘significant similarities’ to the attack on Mr Cartwright.

He said: “It’s obvious to me that he presents a substantial risk of causing serious harm to the public.”

Three years ago, the killer was convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm for punching a 27-year-old man and knocking him unconscious at the Rose and Crown pub, Kexbrough, Barnsley.

Months later, Walker was convicted of affray and possessing two kitchen knives in public, while last June, while on bail for killing Mr Cartwright, he launched another assault outside the Rose and Crown.

Sarah Wright, prosecuting, said Walker, who was barred from the pub, punched a man called Carl Musgrave twice ‘in quick succession’ when he asked him to leave, rather than the police having to remove him.

Miss Wright said: “He approached him in a perfectly amicable way.

“Without warning, witnesses describe two punches in quick succession to the jaw of Mr Musgrave.”

She said Mr Musgrave fell backwards with his arms by his sides, hitting his head on the floor.

Graham Hyland QC, mitigating, said Walker was a qualified joiner who also worked as a fork-lift truck driver, and had a three-year-old daughter with his partner of five years.

He said Walker expressed regret for Mr Cartwright’s death and was being treated for depression while on remand in custody.

Walker, of Windsor Avenue, Kexbrough, was convicted of manslaughter by unanimous verdict.

He had admitted assaulting Mr Cartwright causing actual bodily harm, as well as assaulting Mr Musgrave, causing grievous bodily harm.

He will be subject to an extended sentence, spending four years in prison before spending another four years out of jail on licence under close supervision.

Speaking afterwards, Detective Chief Inspector Sean Middleton, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “A violent man has been convicted and sent to prison.

“Sadly, on this occasion his actions led to the untimely death of Mr Cartwright.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Mr Cartwright’s family and will continue to offer support to them wherever we can.”