Thursday, 18 February 2016

Spurned Man Cleared of Killer Punch

A man taunted by a navy cadet who was dating his ex girlfriend killed him with a single punch but was acquitted at his trial.

In March 1940 Phyllis Pape broke off a four year courtship with George Vincent, a twenty four year old painter. They both lived in Gladstone Road in Seaforth and soon afterwards Phyllis began seeing Thomas Griffiths, a naval cadet from Great Crosby.

On the evening of 25th May that year Thomas and Phyllis went to the pictures and afterwards they were both talking outside of Phyllis's home when Vincent walked past. When Thomas followed Vincent and taunted him, it was a step too far and he was punched in the face and fell backwards, hitting his head on the kerb. His skull was fractured and the following evening he died in Bootle Hospital of a brain hemorrhage.

Vincent was arrested and charged with manslaughter and was tried at the Manchester Assizes on 8th July. In opening the case the prosecution acknowledged that Vincent had lost his temper and struck a sudden blow on impulse, and had no intention to kill. All that Phyllis was able to say was she saw Thomas go after Vincent and then heard a thud and when she ran down the road her new boyfriend was lying on the ground. 

Vincent then went in the witness box to give his version of events, expressing great remorse for what had happened. He told the court that he had been told by a friend that Thomas had been boasting about taking Phyllis from him. When Thomas refused to admit what had been going on, Vincent struck him. He then said 'when he fell backwards to the road and stayed there I was flabbergasted and called his name.'

The defence counsel said that his client had put himself in the dock to describe what happened as there was no direct witness and he was being truthful. The judge agreed in his summing up and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty without leaving their box. The judge then commented 'I agree with you and am very glad' before praising Vincent for his honesty and saying he was free to leave.   

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