A FORMER boxer will spend almost five years behind bars after he killed a champion cyclist with a single punch for intervening in a row.
Ray Eden, aged 42, was knocked to the ground and suffered serious head injuries when he was ‘pole-axed’ by 24-year-old neighbour Luke Jolly.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Ray stepped in as Jolly - described by police as a ‘bully’ - argued violently with partner Katie Mallett outside their house. Ray told the couple: “Have a bit of respect for the street - there’s no need for any of this.”
Ray was described by witnesses as quiet and calm, with his arms by his side, when Jolly threw a fast punch, hitting the dad-of-one on the jaw.
Judge Roger Keen QC told the killer: “Because in your view Mr Eden had the temerity to exercise his rights, you decided you were going to teach him a lesson.
“You exercised all the expertise and skill you had developed as a trained boxer.”
Ray, who worked as customer services manager for Rotherham-based bicycle manufacturers Planet X, represented Great Britain in cycling races, and narrowly missed competing in the 1996 Olympic Games because of a shoulder injury.
Fiona Swain, prosecuting, said Jolly trained as a boxer from the age of 12, winning nearly three quarters of his fights, but gave up aged around 20.
“He was a skilful boxer, a good mover in the ring,” she said.
Ms Swain said Jolly started arguing with Katie at around 7.10am on March 18, and she was seen throwing clothes out of their house on Moat Croft, Scawthorpe, Doncaster, where they had lived for six weeks.
Katie had earlier been spotted being dragged back into the rented property by Jolly after she had stood on top of the porch holding onto a window.
“Mr Eden was on his way to work when he stopped his car in the middle of the road,” Ms Swain said. “He approached and tried to quell the noise. He was saying, ‘Have a bit of respect for the street, there’s no need for any of this’. He was quite calm.
“Miss Mallett was shouting and swearing in response and told him to mind his own business.”
She said Jolly stood face-to-face with Ray before raising his right arm.
“The punch was fast and came from down by his side. Mr Eden fell straight back, hitting the road surface. He did not move.”
Police said Jolly tried to drag unconscious Ray to his feet and, when he realised he could not, dropped him, banging his head once more.
Neighbours immediately rushed out to help Ray, while Jolly and his girlfriend checked on him only briefly before fleeing in Jolly’s car. Jolly was later overheard in a pub discussing how he could claim self-defence.
Ray’s wife Gail rushed to be at her husband’s side at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, but Ray never recovered and died three days later.
She told the court she has been unable to carry on working as a nurse at the infirmary, adding: “I’ll never forget how he looked in that hospital. The look in his eyes was like he was pleading with me, because he didn’t know what was going on. I don’t even know if he knew who I was.
“Ray didn’t deserve to die the way he did. The person who did this was a coward, who didn’t have the decency to stop and see if my husband was okay.”
Judge Keen said he had “seen no sign” of remorse from Jolly, who admitted manslaughter and was jailed for four years and nine months.