York & North Yorkshire

Christopher Coakley jailed over Whitby one-punch death

Christopher Coakley Image copyright Police handout
Image caption The defence said Christopher Coakley accepted "his behaviour on that night was appalling"

A man has been jailed for eight years for killing a father with one punch outside a takeaway in an unprovoked attack in North Yorkshire.

Anthony Welford was hit by Christopher Coakley, who had wrongly accused the 47-year-old of shoving his girlfriend.

Mr Welford hit his head on a parked car and the pavement in Whitby and died from his injuries four days later.

Coakley, 28, was charged with murder, but prosecutors accepted a guilty plea of manslaughter at Leeds Crown Court.

The court heard Mr Welford, from Whitby, had been watching England play Italy in rugby union in February and had drinks with friends before going to Porto Pizza.

Prosecutor Katherine Robinson said Coakley, from Clipstone, Nottinghamshire, was in Whitby on a short holiday with his girlfriend Leighann Baker.

Ms Robinson said the couple had been drinking in various bars and had been arguing.

"In the takeaway the defendant started to become aggressive, troublesome, cocky, arrogant and looking for a fight.

"He said that northern people were stupid and inbred and insulted the takeaway owner.

"Mr Welford, it seems from CCTV, was trying to get him to calm down and be quiet."

As Mr Welford left Porto Pizza, a taxi driver heard Coakely shout "going to knock you out".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Mr Welford, 47, was assaulted outside Porto Pizza in Whitby

The court heard Ms Baker stood in between the two men and was shoved out of the way by Coakley.

He then grabbed Mr Welford's neck with one hand and swung a "hard punch" to the victim's face with the other.

Mr Welford was taken to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and never regained consciousness, the court was told.

He sustained a fractured skull and brain damage and died from a blood clot on 28 February.

Coakley was arrested and later charged with murder after Mr Welford died.

Richard Littler QC, his defence barrister, said Coakley offered to plead guilty to manslaughter.

"He is described as a role model prisoner, he is genuinely remorseful and didn't want to put people through the ordeal of a trial."

Judge Guy Kearl QC said he was satisfied Coakley "intended to cause harm" and expressed the devastation Mr Welford's death had caused.

"It is clear, that they were a very close family and he was at the centre of it. He was a best friend to each of his children and of course, his partner, Anthea," he said.

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