Boxing ‘was not to blame for murder’

Deceased: Thomas Gower.
Deceased: Thomas Gower.
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RELATIVES of a killer jailed for 16 years for murdering a young dad with a punch on a night out claim the case has sullied the reputation of boxing.

Bradley Hinkler, aged 20, of Kilvington Road, Woodthorpe, Sheffield, was a trained boxer who killed 26-year-old Thomas Gower last December.

Jailed: Bradley Hinkler.

Jailed: Bradley Hinkler.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Hinkler had been in a ‘violent, aggressive, ugly’ mood when he knocked Thomas unconscious outside the Alibi bar in Sheffield city centre - then walked away.

Judge Simon Lawler QC said Thomas had shown Hinkler ‘no violence whatsoever’ and would have been ‘very frightened’ as Hinkler chased him down the street before knocking him out.

Thomas, a father-of-two little boys, from Gleadless, fell and smashed his head on the ground and died when his life support machine was switched off.

Much of the prosecution case against Hinkler centred on his past as a young amateur boxer, who knew the power of his fists and that he was capable of causing serious harm.

Trainer: Christopher Smedley fears for sport's image.

Trainer: Christopher Smedley fears for sport's image.

Moments before he delivered the fatal blow he had knocked another man unconscious outside the bar and kicked him as he lay on the ground.

Hinkler’s family plan to appeal against his conviction and sentence on the basis of ‘one punch manslaughter’ and not murder. They claim his boxing should not have been used against him.

His uncle, Christopher Smedley, who runs the gym where Hinkler trained until he was 17, says the trial damaged the reputation of the sport.

“What has got me really mad as a boxing trainer is that this had nothing to do with boxing,” he said.

“Any person in the street can throw a punch - that’s not the art of boxing. The art of boxing is not to get hit.

“I am really angry that this has brought the reputation of boxing into disrepute. The way the case was put was that Bradley was ‘trained to kill’. I have never trained anyone to kill. If I could do that I think the SAS would have me on their books.”

Legendary city boxing trainer Brendan Ingle, who runs a gym at Wincobank, insisted boxing skills should stay where they belong - in the ring.

“Anyone who hits anyone in the street for whatever reason is wrong,” he said.

Det Supt Andy Thompson, who investigated Thomas’s death, said: “There is no excuse for using learnt sport skills to assault other people - as Bradley Hinkler is now learning.”

A family friend of Thomas Gower and his grieving partner Emma Redfern told The Star: “We are all devastated by Thomas’s death. The 16-year sentence does not bring comfort because it does not bring Thomas back.

“Thomas was the third person to have been attacked by Hinkler that night and was punched from behind while running away. A murder verdict was the right verdict.

“Thomas was a wonderful father and partner.”