Two men have pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a teenager who was killed as he tried to prevent the theft of a bike outside a nightclub, with a third man being acquitted by a jury on the same charge.
Steven Thompson died from head injuries sustained when he was attacked outside Roxanne’s nightclub in South Shields after he tried to intervene as Leon Wildgoose, aged 22, tried to take the bike, reports Gazette Live.
Wildgoose and his friend Dylan Ford, 23, have both pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the incident, which happened on the August Bank Holiday weekend this year.
Meanwhile the latter’s step-father Ian Hall, aged 41, was cleared of the same offence by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court, where the jury was shown CCTV footage of the incident.
Nicholas Lumley KC told the court that the prosecution believed all three defendants were to blame for Mr Thompson’s death.
“The initial disturbance began in relation to a bike belonging to a young lad,” he said. “One of the others associated with this defendant, Wildgoose, was taking that bike away.
"Steven Thompson saw what was happening and went to grab the bike to stop it being taken away. That's what he thought was the right thing to do.
“For his troubles, Steven Thompson was then kicked in the back. Apart from trying to rescue the bike, Steven Thompson appears to have done precious little at this point."
Hall, who had been drinking in a nearby bar, arrived at the venue after learning that his step-son was involved in an argument. On arrival, he headbutted the bike’s owner, for which he has pleaded guilty to affray.
“Within a few seconds Steven Thompson appears to bump inadvertently into Dylan Ford, this defendant's stepson, which caused Mr Thompson to put his arm out to either push him away or keep him away,” the prosecutor said, adding that “whatever it was it appears to have been a red rag” to Hall.
“As the disturbance continued, this defendant ran and grabbed hold of Steven Thompson before hitting and, perhaps, headbutting him so both men ended up on the ground outside the nightclub.
“The two younger men, Ford and Wildgoose, then attacked Mr Thompson as he got to his feet. They pursued him across the road before Wildgoose threw a punch which laid him out.
“The final blow was delivered by Wildgoose but this was a joint attack on Steven Thompson,” Mr Lumley said. “Each bears responsibility for the unlawful killing of Steven Thompson.”
He continued: “The issue may simply be whether this defendant was part of what happened. It doesn't matter whether he delivered the fatal blow. The prosecution say he appears to have been involved, doesn't he? He appears to have not tried to bring the assault to an end – quite the opposite.
“He had done nothing to prevent the others continuing the assault. So it seems to the prosecution he was part of it.”
In his defence, Hall maintained that he had not headbutted or punched Mr Thompson and that he had only grabbed him in an attempt to stop the fight. He also denied encouraging Wildgoose and Ford to attack the victim.
After the jury returned its not guilty verdict on the manslaughter charge, Judge Penny Moreland told Hall: “I'm going to direct a pre-sentence report be prepared to assist me. You may have bail until that date. I will remove the electronically monitored curfew but the other conditions remain.
“You are not to contact any prosecution witnesses nor Leon Wildgoose, you are not to enter South Shields town centre and are not to enter any on-license premises.
“Please don't draw any conclusions about the sentence you will get from the fact I'm granting bail and directing a pre-sentence report,” she added. “All options remain open as far as sentence is concerned.”
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Dodds of Northumbria Police said: “These three men will now face the consequences of their violent actions that sadly cost a young man his life.
“Once again we want to thank those who came forward and helped with our enquires and assisted in ensuring justice for Steven and his family.
“Hopefully this case acts as a reminder to everybody that violence of any kind has a devastating impact on victims and families and there is no place for it in our communities.”
Hall, Ford and Wildgoose, all of whom are from South Shields, are due to be sentenced on 3 February 2023.
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