Man jailed after killing Eastbourne dad with a punch

A railway worker who killed an Eastbourne father-of-three in a fight at a Diamond Jubilee party was jailed for just three years yesterday (Tuesday).

Liam Smith, 26, confronted 21 year-old James Harris-Durkin after hearing the victim had made sexual advances to his sister-in-law.

When Mr Harris-Durkin took off his shirt and offered to fight, Smith threw two punches in quick succession with his right and left hands.

The victim slumped to the floor and died in hospital from a brain haemorrhage caused by the second blow to the neck.

Smith, who worked for Network Rail, and his partner Leanne Turner, 25, later gave a false statement to police claiming the first they heard of the killing was on Facebook the next morning.

Judge Peter Rook QC told Smith, “You became involved in a drunken dispute outside a house where a party had taken place on Bank Holiday Tuesday for the celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee.

“Earlier in the evening the victim had apparently made himself unpopular by behaving inappropriately and making an advance to your brother’s wife.

“However, this appears to have blown over. Later on the victim asked you to step outside and instead of avoiding the confrontation you chose to go outside.

“You punched him twice in quick succession. This was a wholly unnecessary fight. By doing so you deprived James Harris-Durkin of his most precious possession, life itself.

“He was a much loved son. Three children are left without a father and his death has had a devastating effect upon the family.”

Turner, who has a three year-old son with Smith, was spared jail for perverting the course of justice.

Judge Rook sentenced her to six months imprisonment suspended for two years with 200 hour unpaid work.

He told her, “Five days after the incident you gave a false statement to the police who you knew were conducting a homicide investigation and you knew your partner was the prime suspect.

“Your statement was designed to put police off the track and protect your partner and the father of your son.

“You have come very close to going to prison. However I am in a position to suspend the sentence. I also take into account that you have a three year-old son and the effect on him if you were both in custody.”

See The Herald on Friday for the full story.