Pub punch led to Sheffield dad’s death

KAMLESH RUPARELIA     Kamlesh Ruparelia.   10  March 2011
KAMLESH RUPARELIA Kamlesh Ruparelia. 10 March 2011
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A ‘HAPPY-GO-LUCKY’ father was celebrating a friend’s birthday at a Sheffield pub when he was dealt the blow which led to his death, an inquest heard.

Kamlesh Ruparelia was taken to hospital after being floored by a single punch at the White Rose pub in Handsworth in October 2010. Three days later, his devastated family made the agonising decision to switch off the 55-year-old’s life support machine.

Kieron Alexander Berresford, 38, of Darnall, was arrested following the incident and later charged with manslaughter, but the case was dropped last year when the Crown Prosecution Service said they would be unable to disprove that he had acted in self-defence. Speaking to The Star, Mr Ruparelia’s family labelled the decision a ‘miscarriage of justice’.

An inquest into Mr Ruparelia’s death re-opened at Sheffield’s Medico Legal Centre yesterday. Coroner Christopher Dorries heard how South Yorkshire Police had pursued 121 separate lines of inquiry and took witness statements from 46 people.

Detective Constable Michael Dronfield said: “Mr Berresford was arrested and interviewed the next day where he made an admission of hitting Mr Ruparelia. During the second interview, he exercised his right to silence and the issue of self-defence came up.

“There is a five-second lapse in the CCTV footage and during that time the punch was thrown.”

The businessman, who owned a take-away close to the pub, had been a regular at the White Rose for around six months before the attack. He took his cousin, Jayendra Kotecha, to the bar at around 5.30pm to celebrate a female friend’s birthday. The pair had been chatting and playing pool with a group of women until around 10pm.

Mr Berresford, who was sat close by, is said to have made a racist remark.

Giving evidence, Mr Kotecha said: “There was a man sitting next to one of the ladies and asked what they were doing talking to us. Kamlesh stood up. The man stood up and punched him in the face and Kamlesh fell to the floor. After that the man just went to the toilet.

“Kamlesh was a nice man. He didn’t get aggressive or angry. I’d say he was happy-go-lucky.

“His death has had a serious effect on me. I’ve been depressed.”

Mr Berresford, who is due to give evidence later this week, disputes Mr Kotecha’s version of events. The inquest continues.