One defendant pleads guilty to manslaughter over Stuart Hutchings death in Northampton while other walks free

One of the defendants accused over the death of Stuart Hutchings has pleaded guilty to manslaughter leaving the other defendant free to go.

Tuesday, 5th December 2017, 4:37 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 11:58 pm
The trial will resume tomorrow

Mr Hutchings, 22, of Southfields, Northampton, died on May 24 at University Hospital in Coventry as a result of injuries sustained in a collision which happened in Eastern Avenue North, Kingsthorpe, close to the junction with Eastern Close, a week prior.

David Barnes, 28, and Craig Turner, 25, were alleged to have driven at a motorcycle being ridden by Mr Hutchings. Originally the men were arrested on grievous bodily harm charges, however, following the death of Mr Hutchings some days later, the charges were changed to murder.

But at Birmingham Crown Court today (December 5) the case changed shape as the murder charges against Turner and Barnes were thrown out because the latter pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

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Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, told His Honour Melbourne Inman QC that the defence had presented an expert witness' report which suggested Mr Hutchings braked before the impact of the motorbike and the Ford Fiesta being driven by Barnes.

"It's certainly perfectly possible that Stuart Hutchings had commenced braking and decelerating and this was the prelude of the vehicles hitting each other," read the report by Clifford Wilkins which cited the skidmarks on the road and the nature of the damage to the car as evidence of the slowing down.

The prosecution agreed the content of the report was possible, and as a result, it eliminated the deliberate nature implied by a murder charge.

Barnes' guilty plea to manslaughter also eliminates the joint enterprise aspect of the murder charge, and because Mr Turner cannot be guilty of manslaughter because it emerged he was not driving the Fiesta, the murder charges were thrown out.

Counts 3 and 4 (relating to either defendant's possession of imitation firearms, namely paintball guns, with intent to cause fear or violence) were also dispensed with because both men had already served six months in custody on murder charges. If the men had been found guilty of the charges on counts 3 and 4 the maximum sentence they will have received would have been 12 months, six of which to be served behind bars. Because the men have already spent six months in jail, the charges were no longer considered.

Barnes sentencing will take place tomorrow.