Manslaughter accused 'punched childhood friend' while celebrating his 21st birthday (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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East Molesey man on manslaughter charges after punching his childhood friend in Teddington "brawl"
A man faces trial for the alleged manslaughter of his childhood friend, who he allegedly punched when out celebrating his 21st birthday.
Patrick Conway, 22, of St John’s Road, East Molesey, is one of seven men facing trial at Kingston Crown Court for their alleged parts in a brawl after which St Mary’s University College student Patrick Lawless died.
The other defendants are from Epsom, East Sheen and Richmond.
The court heard 30 people from two groups who were celebrating several birthdays were involved in the brawl, which started outside the Royal Oak in Teddington High Street at about 9.50pm on November 10, 2012, and makes up the bulk of the charges in the trial.
Prosecuting, Bobbie Cheema said: “This is a case about a group of ordinary young men out celebrating their own birthdays and the birthdays of others.
“They can see their lives and the lives of those around them destroyed by a combination of drink and mindless violence.
“There were three episodes of violence. By the end, one man lay dying. Another two had been seriously injured and the local residents in the area where all of this took place had had to witness two dozen or so young people turn this into a frightening place.”
The jury watched video footage of the brawl, which moved down an alleyway before returning to the high street, where Mr Lawless and his friend James Hales were seen chasing a man called Scott Clutterbuck.
The pair allegedly hit Mr Clutterbuck at the same time, in what Ms Cheema described as a “sickening punch” and Hales then used a crutch as a weapon to hit another man, Kieran Newport, the court heard.
Ms Cheema said: “It appeared that Patrick Lawless at that time was actually trying to encourage a fight.
“The events were witnessed by a number of members of the public who will describe it to you as scary, crazy and vile, like a massive riot and very frightening."
The jury heard Hales pleaded guilty to his part in the violence so would not be included in the trial.
The court heard Mr Lawless and some of his friends then moved up the high street when police arrived and had a drink in the Kings Head at about 11pm. Ms Cheema said at this time Mr Lawless was drunk, boasted about the earlier events outside the Royal Oak, tried to get someone in a headlock and got into an argument with a taxi driver.
Inigo Anderson, 21, of Queenswood Avenue, Hampton, who faces one charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, caught up with the group and was alleged to have punched Mr Lawless in the face, breaking his nose. He denied the charge.
Ms Cheema said: “Whether or not he was acting in self defence the blow that he threw was disproportionate to the threat that Patrick Lawless, that drunk man, posed to him at that time.”
The court heard Mr Lawless then walked further down the high street to Field Lane, where Patrick Conway's girlfriend approached him to calm him down.
Mr Lawless, who was bleeding through his mouth and nose, spat in her face and sat down on a low wall.
The court heard how Mr Conway shouted at Mr Lawless “that’s my girlfriend, you spat at my girlfriend”, to which Mr Lawless replied with obscene language, before Mr Conway hit him.
Ms Cheema said: “Patrick Conway hit Patrick Lawless with a clenched fist and the delivery of that punch caused Patrick Lawless to slump to the floor. The Crown say that is the fatal punch.”
Mr Lawless suffered a broken nose, bruised forehead and bleeding to the brain, the court heard. His condition deteriorated in hospital and his life support machine was switched off on November 12.
The court heard Mr Lawless drank a litre of brandy and coke at home with one other friend before heading out to the pub that evening and he was three times the legal driving limit.
Mr Lawless knew Mr Anderson and had been friends with Mr Conway since they were 11 years old, which Ms Cheema said was one of the “tragic” aspects of the case.
The trial continues and defence solicitors are yet to speak.
The defendants and charges in full
Five defendants face one charge of violent disorder each.
They are Aaron Noonan, 21, of Brick Farm Close, Richmond, Ben Axelrod, 26, of Station Approach, Epsom, Callum Hurley, 20, of Fulmer Close, Hampton, Max Mears, 19, of Temple Sheen Road, East Sheen, and Edward Barry Thompson-Membery, 22, of Pollard Street, Bethnal Green.
Patrick Conway denies one charge of manslaughter but has admitted one count of violent disorder.
Inigo Anderson denies one count of ABH.
James Hales has admitted one count of violent disorder, one count of grievous bodily harm and one count of wounding with intent.