Important police message nearly 12 months after killing of Chris Henchliffe

The people of Chesterfield are being urged to stop and think about the devastating consequences of violence - after a young man was convicted of the manslaughter of former soldier Chris Henchliffe.

Chris Henchliffe. Picture submitted by family.
Chris Henchliffe. Picture submitted by family.

On Tuesday, a jury unanimously ruled that Benjamin Edwards, 22, was guilty of unlawfully killing Mr Henchliffe, who died in hospital nine days after an altercation outside the Pomegranate Theatre in Corporation Street, Chesterfield, last summer.

Edwards, of Fieldview Place, Chesterfield, was sentenced to five-and-a-half-years in prison by Judge Stuart Rafferty QC.

DCI Greg McGill, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said: "I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Henchliffe's family.

Benjamin Edwards. Picture issued by Derbyshire Constabulary.

"They have had to listen to evidence which has undoubtedly been extremely difficult to hear - but they have been exceptionally brave throughout the trial.

"This case is a tragic example of how one flash of violence can cause such pain, loss and devastation - and should send a stark message about the serious consequences of violence.

"Chris was just on a night out with friends - and never came home because of that incident.

"Anyone who is in that situation, no matter what the circumstances, needs to stop and think about what they are doing.

Benjamin Edwards. Picture issued by Derbyshire Constabulary.

"No argument is worth taking a life for - and as the impact on Mr Henchliffe's family and the sentence that Edwards has received show, the devastation caused by just one punch can be far-reaching."

During a six-day trial at Nottingham Crown Court, the prosecution said Edwards punched Mr Henchliffe, 26, outside the theatre in an 'act of aggression' - following a row over a spilt drink during a night out.

Mr Henchliffe fell 'heavily' to the floor and suffered a catastrophic head injury, the court heard.

Edwards denied manslaughter and argued he 'threw a punch' at Mr Henchliffe as he feared he was going to harm his friend.

Dad-of-one Mr Henchliffe, who lived on Maynard Road, Chesterfield, served with the Yorkshire Regiment and completed a tour of Afghanistan.