Manslaughter accused says it was 'split second decision' to punch victim

Vineyard Street car park in Colchester

The incident happened in Vineyard Street car park in Colchester - Credit: Google Street View

An Essex man accused of punching a man who hit his head on the ground and later died in hospital has told a court he made a “split second decision” to strike the victim because he believed he was going to be hit.

Brodie Groome told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that 46-year-old Steven Warburton had gone from “passive to aggressive” and had an angry look on his face.

“I believed he was going to throw a punch 100%,” said Groome.

“If I’d waited I might have been flat in my back. If he’d hit me he would have wiped me out,” he said.

Groome said he didn’t think his punch was hard enough to knock out Mr Warburton and believed the amount Mr Warburton had drunk played a part in him going to the ground.

Groome, 27, of Sydney Street, Brightlingsea, has denied manslaughter arising out of an incident on August 19 last year.

Mr Warburton hit his head on the ground after being punched by Groome and died in hospital three weeks later

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The court has heard Mr Warburton had been out drinking in Colchester with his wife Caroline, son Byron and daughter-in-law Olivia while Groome had been out drinking with a male friend and two women.

The two groups met in Vineyard Street just after midnight and there were conflicting accounts about how the violence that followed erupted, said Nicola May, prosecuting.

She said that on mobile phone footage recorded by a witness both groups were shouting at each other apart from Mr Warburton who was hanging around at the back of the group.

He could be seen pulling his son away and then picking his wife up off the ground after she fell over but wasn’t involved in the altercation, alleged Miss May.

Groome said the two women in Mr Warburton’s group “had a go” at one of his friends who was urinating against a wall.

Groome had made a comment to them and claimed that Byron Warburton had  punched and kicked him.

Groome said he saw Steven Warburton pick his partner up off the ground and then saw him “ bare and grit” his teeth before dropping his shoulder.

“I thought he was going to power up a big old punch,” said Groome.

The trial continues.

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