04:40PM, Wednesday 30 March 2022
A man who killed a Burnham resident during a fight has been sentenced to more than nine years in prison.
Beau Robinson, 35, collapsed and later died following an altercation in Wyndham Crescent on June 20 last year.
That day, Mr Robinson was in a fight with Daniel Hicks, 31, of no fixed abode and Martin Fleming, 20, of Bideford Spur, Slough.
At Reading Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday), the court heard that the trio had been involved in ‘a prearranged fight in which [all] were consenting’, alongside two other people.
The court heard the fight was over ‘jealousy and anger’ regarding a relationship with a third party – and Hicks and Mr Robinson had been ‘abusive and threatening to each other’ via WhatsApp in the run-up to Mr Robinson’s death.
“It was clear there was a lot of bad blood between them,” said the presiding Judge Paul Dugdale.
“The reality is that it is an utter tragedy that everyone is here today for an event that could so easily have been avoided.
“It is impossible to put into words the loss his family feel at his passing, in particular his four children.”
The court heard that Hicks brought a knife to the meeting, Fleming brought a bottle – which he was holding by the neck – and Mr Robinson brought a baseball bat.
However, the knife was not used in the attack. Hicks ‘used it to gesture’ and then threw it aside, instead delivering ‘hard punches’ repeatedly to Mr Robinson’s head. Hicks landed about 20 blows.
These ‘did not appear to be very hard’ and only caused some bruising – however footage showed he ‘was the more violent of the two.’
“But it’s clear that where Mr Robinson has the chance to swing the bat, he does,” said Judge Dugdale.
Fleming made ‘some contact’ but no blows and appeared to be mainly there ‘in support’ of Hicks.
His counsel, Graham Trembath QC, said Fleming has ‘always maintained he did not delivery any blow, by foot, or fist, or by bottle’.
The fatal blow, pathologists thought, was likely to be a knee to Mr Robinson’s abdomen by Hicks – a blunt force trauma caused a significant laceration of tissues around the stomach.
The rupture caused ‘extensive’ blood loss, with three litres of it found in the abdominal cavity.
The court heard that this was ‘unlucky and unfortunate’, as death from this kind of injury is ‘very rare’.
Subsequent WhatsApp messages from Hicks to Mr Robinson suggested that Hicks ‘had no idea’ of the extent of his injuries.
Hicks’ defence barrister, Richard Wormald QC, said that Hicks ‘foresaw the possibility of serious violence’, hence why Hicks brought a knife with him.
Mr Wormald said that there were ‘some characteristics’ of self-defence in Hicks’ behaviour that day.
But Judge Dugdale said that it did not count as self-defence if Hicks went to the scene with the intention of unlawful violence.
It was determined that Hicks went to see Mr Robinson ‘with the intent to cause harm just short of grievous bodily harm’, which falls ‘between high and low culpability.’
As part of Hicks’ defence, Judge Dugdale considered character references, including those who had known Hicks as ‘a footballer of considerable talent’ in Holyport and Marlow.
Aggravating factors include a series of prior convictions for violent offences, as well as a breach of a suspended sentence, and the fact that Hicks went to the scene as part of a group.
Another point against him was that both Hicks and Fleming did not appear to ‘accept that their act of violence was unlawful’ in the early stages of the case.
Hicks was given nine years and four months in prison for manslaughter, of which he must serve two thirds of his time, and the rest on licence.
His second charge of possession of a bladed article fetched him 15 months in prison, to be served concurrently.
In considering Fleming’s involvement, the judge considered his behaviour as captured on CCTV, where Fleming can be seen putting down the bottle he took with him and backing away.
The CCTV footage ‘shows some but not all’ of the fight but was considered the most reliable evidence, compared to witness testimony, and informed the direction of the case.
In it, Fleming’s involvement in the altercation is about two seconds’ long.
His age, autistic spectrum disorder, lack of pervious relevant convictions all acted as mitigation – as did his surrendering himself to the police when he learned of Mr Robinson’s death.
Fleming received two and a half years in prison for violent disorder and must serve at least half his time.
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