‘Manslaughter’ defendant ‘pumped up and angry’ before confrontation, court told
A father-of-three died after being confronted on his doorstep by a driver angry at a “minor” collision minutes after he settled down to watch an episode of Love Island, a court heard.
Oliver Brown is alleged to have knocked Stephen Walsh to the floor after becoming enraged when his van was “clipped” by the 37-year-old’s Lexus on July 29 last year.
Prosecutors allege the small amount of damage on his Vauxhall Astra van had left the 21-year-old defendant “pumped up and angry”.
Nottingham Crown Court heard Brown had been “circling the area” following the collision and spotted the Lexus on Mr Walsh’s drive after being “determined” to track down the person responsible for causing damage to his wing mirror and nearside front of the van.
The court was told Mr Walsh should not have been driving as he had drunk too much at a friend’s Christening earlier in the evening.
A jury panel of six men and six women heard Brown struck Mr Walsh hard to the face at his home in Mapperley, Nottingham, and the alleged victim had cracked his head on the ground as a result.
Brown, of Golden Sands Caravan Park, Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, denies manslaughter.
The defendant’s girlfriend, Rosann Newton, of Findern Green, Nottingham, denies assisting an offender after allegedly giving false statements to police and deleting text messages from her mobile.
The prosecution said 21-year-old Newton told police Mr Walsh’s fiance Katie Brown had been the one “lashing out” at her partner, punching him to the stomach and head.
Addressing Newton’s allegations, the prosecution said: “Katie Brown did not do anything to hurt her fiance or contribute to his death.
“The suggestion that she did is a vicious lie to try and deflect blame for what really happened.”
The jury were read text messages between Brown and Newton, including “I really hope he’s not brain damaged” which had been deleted from Newton’s phone.
Another message from Brown to Newton read: “Anger got the better of me should of (sic) just pushed him.”
Newton had also told her friend about the incident, saying: “We eventually found the guy, Oliver f***ing knocked him clean out.”
Opening the case against Brown on Wednesday, prosecutor Sarah Knight said Mr Walsh’s fiance, who failed to realise he was badly hurt due to the amount he had had to drink, rang 999 after finding him “stone cold” upstairs the following morning.
Ms Knight said: “An ambulance attended her home without delay and it was her fiance, Stephen Walsh, who was lying on his back in the upstairs bedroom.
“He was pronounced dead at the scene that morning.
“There was nothing that could be done to revive him.
“The Crown’s case is that Stephen Walsh was unlawfully killed by the actions of Oliver Brown.
“And that Oliver Brown’s girlfriend Rosann Newton tried to hide important evidence from the police in an attempt to try and protect her boyfriend.”
Outlining the events leading up to Mr Walsh’s death, Ms Knight said: “On their way home shortly after 10pm, Mr Walsh in his Lexus veered into the path of Oliver Brown.
“Oliver Brown was travelling with his girlfriend, Rosann Newton.
“The two vehicles collided to a minor degree.
“Mr Walsh’s vehicle clipped Oliver Brown’s van causing a small amount of damage to the wing mirror and nearside front.
“This occurred not far from Elmhurst Avenue, just round the corner from where Stephen Walsh and Katie Brown lived.
“Mr Walsh should have stopped at the scene, but he simply carried on home, arriving there at about 10.30pm.”
Addressing what happened when Mr Walsh and Ms Brown arrived at their home, Ms Knight said: “They put on an episode of Love Island that they had recorded but they hadn’t been in long when there was a knock at the door.
“It was Oliver Brown.
“He was angry that his vehicle had been clipped and had been determined to find the person who had done it.
“He drove around and around the area determined to that car and find the person who was responsible.
“Oliver Brown would not rest until he found that car.”
Ms Knight continued: “Stephen Walsh answered the knock at the door.
“Oliver Brown remonstrated with him at the front door but it was then that (Mr Walsh) was struck hard to the face knocking him to the ground.
“He was knocked out cold and unconscious.
“The blow that Oliver Brown delivered to him and the impact it caused Stephen Walsh’s head… resulted in fractures to his skull and jaw.
“These would lead to a bleed on the brain that would kill him just a few hours later.
“Oliver Brown instantly knew he had done far too much and had overreacted.
“He tried to make amends by picking up Stephen Walsh under his arms and dragging him into the living room inside his home and parking him there on the sofa.”
The court heard Brown told police he had become “a bit aggressive” and said he had slapped Mr Walsh once with his right hand which caused him to fall to the ground.
However, Ms Knight said Brown’s prepared statement to police said he denied being in an angry state when he set out to find Mr Walsh.
Ms Knight said: “He maintained that Stephen Walsh was drunk and aggressive.
“Oliver Brown said ‘I think he stumbled but I didn’t cause him to fall to the floor when I slapped him’ – contradicting what he had previously said to the police.”
Concluding her opening of the case, Ms Knight said: “Rosann Newton was desperate to try and hide the truth and she was desperate to try and protect her boyfriend.
“She knows that Oliver Brown’s actions towards Stephen Walsh were carried out… in a fit of temper and it was her boyfriend who caused Stephen Walsh’s death.
“The prosecution’s case is that at no time in that short-lived incident did Oliver Brown act in self-defence.
“The evidence shows, we say, how he tracked down the driver of the Lexus.
“He was pumped up and he was angry.
“He simply wouldn’t let the situation lie.”