13 years behind bars for man who killed a dad out celebrating with family

Brodie Groome has been jailed for 13 years 

Brodie Groome has been jailed for 13 years - Credit: Essex Police

An Essex man who fatally injured a 46-year-old father while he was on a night out with his family to celebrate his son’s first wedding anniversary has been jailed for 13 years.

Steven Warburton died in hospital three weeks after being punched once by 27-year-old Brodie Groome in a late-night incident in the Vineyard Street car park in Colchester town centre in August last year.

Sentencing Groome, who refused to attend the sentencing hearing, Judge Martyn Levett said that at the time he delivered the fatal blow Mr Warburton had been helping his wife to her feet after the heel of one of her shoes had broken.

“There was no threat, no move forward by him towards you,” said the judge.

“Afterwards you said to the deceased’s son 'take your bird and flit', whilst his father was lying prone on the floor and his mother was becoming hysterical. 

Vineyard Street car park in Colchester

Vineyard Street car park in Colchester - Credit: Google Street View

He said that in phone footage from the incident Groome could be heard saying to Mr Warburton’s son Byron, whilst pointing towards Mr Warburton, who was unconscious on the ground, “you hit me brother, so I banged your boy, simple”. 

“I conclude that this was a punch deliberately thrown during serious public disorder and you threw the punch out a sense of anger. 

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“You clearly targeted the one person who was doing nothing during the melee in order to teach Byron Warburton a lesson, choosing an easy target for your violence,” said the judge..

He said the incident, which was captured on cctv and mobile phone footage, showed “an all too common scene on our streets, late at night. This behaviour is blighting the reputation of town centre in this county of Suffolk and in Essex, said Judge Levett.

“This case represents a small but growing number of incidents which occurred during the pandemic, after lockdown restrictions were eased, when violent scuffles break out in town centres late at night, after considerable quantities of drink have been consumed. 

“This is one more case in the catalogue of violent incidents which significantly affect the reputation of the High Streets in local towns, and occur during the opening hours of the night time economy,” he added.

“I want to express yet again, that crimes of violence and anti-social behaviour are taken extremely seriously. 

“I repeat again that this type of violence is having a negative impact on the night-time economy and I want to reassure the public that the town centres are safe and very much open for business during the lead up to Christmas."

Groome, of Sydney Street, Brightlingsea, was unanimously found guilty of manslaughter at Ipswich Crown Court in September after a jury unanimously rejected his claim that he had been acting in self-defence when he struck the fatal blow to Mr Warburton. 

During the trial, the jury heard that Mr Warburton had been out drinking in Colchester with his wife Caroline, son Byron and daughter-in-law Olivia on the night in question while Groome had been out drinking with a male friend and two women.

The two groups encountered each other in Vineyard Street just after midnight and violence erupted following an argument. 

Mobile phone footage recorded by a witness showed both groups were shouting at each other apart from Mr Warburton, who was hanging around at the back of the group.

On CCTV footage from the car park Mr Warburton was seen leaning down to help his wife, who had been knocked to the floor.

He was then punched by Groome and fell backwards, hitting his head against the pavement. 

During Groome's sentencing hearing victim impact statements were read to the court including one from Caroline Warburton who spoke of the "unbearable pain" her husband's death had caused. 

She said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, relatives were unable to see Mr Warburton following the attack, which was "traumatic" for family members.

Craig Rush, for Groome, said his client hadn’t attended the sentencing hearing because he was expecting a prison visit from a relative and it hadn’t been possible for him to appear at the hearing on a prison video link.

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