Jail for thug who killed Sunderland man over pool game dispute

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A THUG has been jailed after a drunken one-hit punch over a game of pool killed a man.

William Linley had fallen out with a pal during a knock-out game being played at the Albion pub, Victor Street, Sunderland last December.

After the 33-year-old left the bar for a cigarette, Charles Butler waded into the argument and ended up throwing boxing-style punches to his head.

Newcastle Crown Court heard yesterday, how Mr Linley, who was known as Billy, was knocked to the ground by the force of at least one blow and there was a “loud crack” as his head hit the pavement.

The impact with the ground caused skull fractures and serious brain injury, which led to Mr Linley’s death 11 days later.

Butler, 25, of Bright Street, Roker, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was jailed for four years.

Judge Paul Sloan told him: “I accept you never foresaw, let alone intended, the consequences that resulted from your actions that night and you have expressed deep regret.

“No sentence could ever ease the pain that has been and will continue to be suffered by Mr Linley’s family and friends. No sentence could ever achieve what they desire more than anything else, namely, the return of a loved one.”

The court heard Butler and Mr Linley had not known each other but were part of the same group drinking and playing pool in the bar on December 11.

Mr Linley had fallen out with one of his friends over the rules of an elimination-type pool game and had gone outside where he got into a confrontation with Butler.

The court heard Butler went back inside the bar, while Mr Linley shouted drunken threats at him from outside, before coming “flying” back out and swinging punches at him.

He threw two “boxing-style” punches, with one causing him to fall to the floor, hitting his head on the pavement.

Mr Linley was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

Despite undergoing surgery Mr Linley’s condition continued to deteriorate and he was pronounced dead on December 22.

A statement from Mr Linley’s grieving mother was read to the court.

It said: “We find it impossible to say how greatly his death effects us. As a family we are all absolutely devastated.

“I have had a sick feeling every day when i wake up and I feel the same when I go back to bed.

“As far as we are concerned Charles Butler has ruined all our lives.

“Our family is not complete. I cannot count the times I have wanted to take all my tablets and not be here anymore, just to take the pain away.”

The court heard Butler has previous convictions for violence and was out on licence from a prison sentence for handling stolen goods and drugs offences at the time of the killing.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Bentham, of Northumbria Police, today welcomed the sentence.

He said: “Our thoughts remain with Billy’s family and friends who are still trying to come to terms with this tragic event.

“It is another tragic example of how alcohol fuelled arguments can quickly escalate, resulting in consequences no-one can predict. We would would urge people to stay in control and not let having too much to drink develop into something much worse.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho