Soldier cleared of killing man after Washington street attack

Karl Pascoe
Karl Pascoe

A soldier has been cleared of killing a man who he badly injured in a street attack.

Former Coldstream Guard Karl Pascoe was jailed for 13 years for causing brain injuries to Joseph Leech when he battered him with a fence post in December 2013.

Mr Leech, 32, died in his parents' home in April 2015, and prosecutors claimed Pascoe's attack was to blame.

After a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, Pascoe, 31, of Blackfell, Washington, sobbed in the dock as jurors found him not guilty of murder and manslaughter.

Pascoe had told the jury he was defending himself when he lashed out with the fence post.

The court heard the former guardsman was on pre deployment leave at the time of the incident in the early hours of December 23 2013 and had been due to be sent to Afghanistan.

During his evidence, Pascoe told the jury how he saw Mr Leech walking down the opposite side of Woodland Terrace in Washington with a piece of wood and crossed to "try and calm him down."

He said: "I said something along the lines of 'who ever it is, it's not worth it'.

"I was trying to calm him down from doing anything he might regret doing."

Pascoe told jurors he thought the stranger was "looking for trouble" and disarmed him after Mr Leech went to strike him with the wood.

The former squaddie said he took the piece of wood from Mr Leech and used two hands to hit him with it.

He said: "I thought he was going to go for me."

When asked why he hit Mr Leech a second time with the piece of wood, Pascoe said: "I thought he was going to come back at me.

"I wasn't thinking about how much force I used at the time."

He told the court how he hit Mr Leech, who was on his knees, a third time to his head with the piece of wood as he was trying to get back up.

Pascoe said: "He was down on the floor. Lying on his front."

When asked what he thought he had done to him, Pascoe replied: "Killed him".

He said that was not what he wanted to do.

When asked why he behaved in that way, Pascoe said: "Because I thought he was going to hurt me."

Pascoe said he was "disgusted" when asked how he felt about what he had done to Joseph Leech and his family.

He told jurors that, looking back, he should have carried on walking and not crossed the road.