Suffolk nightclub boss Peter Crotty jailed four years for manslaughter

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

A Suffolk nightclub owner who shoved a man in the chest causing him to fall backwards and hit his head on the pavement has been jailed for four years for manslaughter.

Peter Crotty

Peter Crotty - Credit: Archant

Peter Crotty, who ran Aura nightclub in Newmarket and another club in Bury St Edmunds, was captured on CCTV “forcefully” pushing 51-year-old Adrian Williams in the chest with both hands and then “turning his back” on him and walking off as Mr Williams lay on the pavement.

Mr Williams, a farm worker who lived in Soham, was taken to Addenbrooke’s hospital suffering from a fractured skull and brain damage after the incident on December 27 and died 17 days later from his injuries.

Crotty, 33, of Nimbus Way, Newmarket, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court at an earlier hearing to manslaughter.

Jailing Crotty, Judge David Goodin described what he did as “an act of an arrogant bully prepared to resort to using force on a whim and for absolutely no reason at all.”

He rejected a suggestion that Crotty had walked away and left Mr Williams on the ground because of training he had received in the army and as a licensee. “There wasn’t an altercation here. There was just an act of aggression by you followed by you turning your back and walking away.”

Judge Goodin said Crotty had initially tried to claim to police that Mr Williams had threatened him over a debt but now accepted this was untrue.

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“This was a very hard push to the chest of a man it is accepted was under the influence of alcohol,” said Judge Goodin.

He said the sound of Mr Williams’ head hitting on the pavement was heard by shocked passers-by, including passengers on a coach which had pulled up outside Aura nightclub in Newmarket High Street shortly before the incident.

At the earlier hearing the court heard that Mr Williams, who lived alone and was described as “sociable and happy”, had spent Christmas with relatives in Wales and after returning home had gone out drinking on December 27 with friends.

During the evening he took a taxi to Newmarket on his own and had been refused entry to Aura by two doormen because he appeared to have been drinking.

Godfried Duah, prosecuting, said Mr Williams had been talking to the door staff and had not shown any signs of aggression.

Crotty had come out of the club to pay the doormen and was seen on CCTV to push Mr Williams forcefully in the chest causing him to fall back and hit his head on the ground.

The court heard that after his arrest Crotty claimed Mr Williams had made a comment about money Crotty owed to a nightclub promoter but when police spoke to the promoter he denied asking Mr Williams to recover the debt for him.

Andrew Shaw, for Crotty, said the single push by his client had “unfortunate and tragic” consequences.

“He didn’t expect his actions to cause anything like the injuries they did,” said Mr Shaw.

He said Crotty was remorseful and had written a letter to Mr Williams’ family which was with the police.

He said Crotty had left the scene immediately after the incident “to minimise the risk of further his hostility” which he had been taught while he was in the army and working private security and as a licensee of nightclubs.

He said Crotty had served in the army until he was medically discharged as a result of injury.

Mr Shaw said Crotty had been feeling “snappy, agitated and tired” at the time of the incident involving Mr Williams following a busy Christmas period.

He said Crotty had been seen by an organisation that helped former army personnel who had problems adjusting to civilian life.

Mr Shaw also told the court that Crotty had raised £17,000 for a brain injury ward at Addenbrooke’s hospital after his father was treated there.