Chesterfield murder trial: Man faces life sentence after being found guilty of murdering former soldier in beer bottle attack

It took a jury almost nine hours to find a man guilty of murder in a two-week trial after a former Chesterfield soldier died after he was punched in the face with a bottle outside a late-night drinking den.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 9:18 am

Joseph Robotham had been enjoying a night out with friends to celebrate the all-clear from a cancer scare when he got into a fight with Dronfield man Adrian Strafford.

The pair, who did not know each other, had both ended up in the Vibe Bar in Holywell Street when Mr Robotham and Mr Strafford had got into an argument.

Fists were thrown, with Mr Robotham, of Sheffield Road, Old Whittington, landing one and pushing Connor Rose to the ground in the scuffle.

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Joseph Robotham was murdered by Connor Rose

As the two men were ejected by door staff, Rose made his way around the perimeter of the club, concealing a beer bottle, and smashed it into the face of Mr Robotham, knocking him unconscious.

He fell “like a sack of potatoes” to the floor and smacked his head on the ground, fracturing his skull. He was rushed to Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital but died the next day from “devastating” brain injuries.

Some described Rose lingering at the scene and gloating, while Mr Robotham’s partner, Chelsea Neale, told the court that he had said to her: “He deserved that”.

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Rose fled the scene and was initially pursued on foot by a group of men as far as Chesterfield’s so-called doughnut roundabout. The group had then borrowed a car and tracked him down to Sheffield Road where he had jumped over a wall and hidden in a garden to evade them.

Rose had then called his father, who agreed to drive him to Dronfield, where he first tried to knock-up a friend, and then went to the home of his estranged partner and their two children.

In the hours that followed, the 25-year-old sent and responded to a series of texts and social media messages, bragging about the attack and making light of what he had done. He was arrested at the Dronfield property the following day after he was identified by CCTV.

Initially he claimed no knowledge of the incident, but later admitted Mr Robotham’s manslaughter - saying he had been acting to protect Mr Strafford because he thought that the bar brawl was ongoing on the street outside.

Giving evidence in his own defence, Rose had told the jury that he had started the evening drinking in the Chantrey Arms, in Woodseats, Sheffield, with friends. He had then gone to a nearby Wetherspoons, before heading to Dronfield for more drinks.

He had then bumped into Mr Strafford at the Green Dragon, and they had decided to travel on to Chesterfield.

Rose, whose registered address is his father’s house in Baden Powell Road, Chesterfield, told the court he was living between his former partner’s home in Dronfield and another unspecified address in Sheffield, where he worked in a factory.

Earlier in Wednesday’s proceedings at Derby Crown Court, Judge Shaun Smith told the jury they could reach a majority verdict after more than seven-and-a-half hours of deliberating.

They found him guilty of murder by a majority of 10-2 around 90 minutes later.

Rose will be sentenced on Friday.

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