Boy, 16, playing the ‘big man’ in front of his pals killed a man with a single punch
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT Connor Stewart took one swing at drunken Michael Rhodes and sent him crashing to the ground, where he suffered a fatal head injury, in Blackpool
A teenager killed a drunk man with a single punch after showing off to friends and playing the ‘big man’.
Connor Stewart ‘shadow boxed’ as victim Michael Rhodes staggered and tried to hold off the 16-year-old.
Stewart lashed out hitting him with a punch that left him mortally injured with a fractured skull.
The teenager has been sent to a young offender’s institution after admitting manslaughter for the attack in May.
In mobile phone footage from the scene, Mr Rhodes, 47, holds his hands up in defence and tries to walk away from any brewing trouble.
Stewart then punches him in the face, sending him falling onto the pavement and smacking his head hard on the concrete.
As Stewart runs off with a number of other youths, Mr Rhodes is left lying motionless on the ground, while one person can be heard shouting: “Oi, he’s bleeding. His head’s bleeding.”
And another voice says: “He’s killed him.”
The footage was played in court as Stewart was sentenced on Monday morning. He is said to have shown little emotion as the judge watched the footage of the drug addict’s death.
The court was told Stewart, who initially told police he had acted in self-defence but later admitted a charge of manslaughter, returned to the scene and urged his victim to “wake up”, before fleeing once more.
The sickening footage was widely shared on social media in the days and weeks that followed the brutal assault on Saturday, May 20.
The teenager will serve a sentence of three years in a young offenders’ institute after admitting killing Mr Rhodes outside a shop in the seaside town of Blackpool, Lancs.
He can be named after a challenge by the press on reporting restrictions.
Wearing a black hooded top, Stewart sat staring at the floor as the court heard how Mr Rhodes was “baited and abused” by youngsters after rowing with staff inside a corner shop.
Stewart, from Blackpool, wasn’t one of the youths abusing Mr Rhodes, but arrived in the street as it continued.
“Perhaps the easiest way to describe the defendant’s actions is to say he was playing the big man in front of this group,” Mr McEntee said.
“We know the victim was a subject of fun because he was known to be a drug abuser.
“He was referred to there as a crackhead.
“He was, though, not wholly intoxicated, and not steady on his feet. He was an easy target.”
Mr Rhodes suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital, where he remained in a critical condition for weeks before his death on Sunday, June 11, more than three weeks later.
In a statement read before the court, his mum Margaret said Mr Rhodes was a former plasterer and chef who had battled problems with drink and drugs.
She described her son “struggling to cling to life”, and doctors telling the family that, even if he did survive his ordeal, he would never have any real quality of life.
Defending, Julie Taylor said Stewart was a troubled youngster, she said he had been exposed to domestic violence growing up, before his mother and father separated when he was a young teenager.
“The fact the video exists and was circulated on social media has nothing to do with the defendant. He was very distraught and he has been unable to watch it,” she said.
His Honour Judge Mark Brown said Stewart would receive full credit for his early guilty plea, and that his age and troubled past would be taken into account.
He said: “This is obviously a very tragic case and I accept you did not intend to kill Mr Rhodes or do him really serious harm.
“However, you were prepared to use force and did so showing off to your friends, and he died because of your violent conduct towards him.
“Although he had issues with drugs and alcohol, he was not a violent person and would always shy away from conflict.”