One punch killer teenager is jailed for manslaughter

Connor Stewart admitted the manslaughter of Michael Rhodes.

A teenager who admitted killing a Blackpool man with a single punch has been locked up.

Connor Stewart 16, of Devonshire Road, Morecambe, appeared at Preston Crown Court on Monday October 2, where he was sentenced to three years in a youth offender’s institution for the manslaughter of Michael Rhodes.

He had previously pleaded guilty to the offence during a hearing at Preston Crown Court on August 21.

Judge Mark Brown lifted reporting restrictions which prevented naming Stewart due to his age.

Mr Rhodes was killed in a ‘one punch’ attack on Exchange Street at around 2.30pm on May 20, this year.

In the moments before it happened Stewart had approached Mr Rhodes, before adopting a boxing stance and punching him once to his face. Mr Rhodes fell backwards down a small step, hitting his head on some concrete.

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital and later transferred to Royal Preston Hospital. He sadly died on June 11, having never regained consciousness.

Stewart maintained throughout interviews with police that he acted in self-defence, however mobile phone footage taken at the time shows Mr Rhodes standing in a defenceless position, backing away as he is approached.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Holmes, of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Investigation Team, said: “Mr Rhodes posed no threat and meant no harm to anybody, and on that day in May was simply going about his own business when he was unlucky enough to cross paths with Connor Stewart.

“Sadly, Mr Rhodes’ life is not the only one ruined: those closest to him must now deal with the loss of a beloved family member and friend, while Stewart, aged just 16, has a conviction for manslaughter and must spend the rest of his life with another man’s death on his conscience.

“This is an utterly tragic case which was totally avoidable and shows the devastating consequences that just one punch can have.

“I’d now like to thank the judge for handing down the sentence he has today, which sends a strong message that behaviour like this will not be tolerated. I would also like to pay tribute to Mr Rhodes’ family, who have conducted themselves with nothing but dignity at such a difficult time.”

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