Harrogate one punch killer jailed

Phillip Patrick Begley (s)
Phillip Patrick Begley (s)

A man who killed a work colleague with one punch during a night out in Harrogate has been jailed for six years.

Phillip Patrick Begley, aged 44 and of Wellington Road, Bridlington, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Paul Morrison at Leeds Crown Court today (Thursday July 2), following a four-day trial.

Begley was also found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm for an attack on Paul’s friend, Peter Bell, and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment to run consecutively.

The jury of seven men and five women found Begley guilty after hearing he had punched the pair in revenge for ‘horseplay’ and ‘banter’ earlier in the night.

The men had met in Harrogate on the evening of November 1 last year, where they went for a drink in the Wetherspoons Winter Gardens pub, in Parliament Street.

Prosecuting Nicholas Askins said: “There was the usual good humoured exchanges between the men of the group, nothing but a bit of harmless fun. The banter became more raucous as the evening progressed, though no one was drunk.”

When inside the Winter Gardens Pub, the jury heard, Mr Morrison pushed Begley to the floor in an incident described as ‘horseplay’ by Mr Askins.

At around 7.30pm,Paul and Mr Bell were in the beer garden at the back of the pub when they were approached by Begley.

Mr Askins said there was ‘an unremarkable exchange of banter’ in the beer garden before Begley punched Paul in the face and he fell backwards hitting his head on the base of a pillar.

Paul, who was aged 51 and from Burton Leonard, sustained a serious head injury and was taken to Harrogate District Hospital, where he spent almost three weeks fighting for his life before he sadly passed away.

Mr Bell suffered facial injuries in the incident, which required hospital treatment

Mr Askins told the court earlier in the week that a bystander had heard Begley saying: “I used to be able to knock them out cold, don’t think I can do it these days,” before throwing the punches.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Pete Martin, of North Yorkshire Police, welcomed Begley’s sentence.

He said: “Paul Morrison was a devoted family man whose wife and children have been left heartbroken by the actions of Philip Begley.

“Paul was enjoying a night out with his friends and he never came home, which is a devastating and tragic scenario which no family should ever have to deal with.

“At no time has Begley accepted responsibility for his actions and has forced Paul’s family to sit through the anguish of a crown court trial.

“Now that Begley is facing spending the next few years in a prison cell I hope he takes some time to think about the devastating consequences of his violent behaviour.”

DCI Martin added that this tragic case shows just how much damage one punch can cause.

He said: “I hope Paul’s death highlights to people that getting involved in any kind of violent behaviour can have a tragic outcome.

“A family has lost a loved one, and Philip Begley is spending the foreseeable future in jail all because of one punch.”