Bottle attack killer loses appeal

Philip Sherriff
Philip Sherriff
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A graphic designer jailed for the murder of a telephone executive from Lancashire has lost an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London rejected challenges by Ashley Charles, 27, from Leicester, who killed a father-of-two Phillip Sherriff with a broken bottle.

Charles, who was present in the dock of the court for the ruling, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 14 years in November 2012.

He was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering Mr Sherriff, 37, who died four days after being attacked at Pulse nightclub in central London.

Both were guests at an event organised by BlackBerry, the company Mr Sherriff worked for.

Charles, of Nevanthon Road, Leicester, denied the charge, claiming he acted in self-defence. But Judge Paul Worsley said Charles killed Mr Sherriff, of Scorton, near Preston, because he was annoyed.

Judge Worsley told Charles when sentencing him: “This is a tragic case. Mr Sherriff may have pushed you in a crowded bar and made inoffensive remarks to a girl talking to you. You clearly became annoyed at what you perceived was the conduct of Mr Sherriff and lost your temper when he may have pushed against you at the bar.”

Charles took a beer bottle from Mr Sherriff’s hand and swung it behind him, where it broke, and then plunged it into Mr Sherriff’s neck.

Judge Worsley told him: “You did not deliberately smash the bottle you used. I am satisfied you did not intend to kill Mr Sherriff and you were immediately remorseful.”

It was argued on behalf of Charles on Monday that when he struck the fatal blow he did not intend either to kill or cause really serious harm, and in the circumstances the appropriate verdict was manslaughter, not murder.

But, Lord Justice Jackson, dismissing a renewed application for leave to appeal against conviction, said the jury decided that he had “intended to cause really serious harm”, adding: “In our view, on the evidence, the jury were fully entitled to reach that conclusion and they received all proper assistance from the judge.”

Rejecting the sentence challenge, he said the trial judge had weighed up all the favourable and unfavourable matters when deciding on the minimum term of 14 years.

Lord Justice Jackson concluded: “On any view that assessment was a perfectly proper one. We see no grounds for this court to interfere.

“We agree with the trial judge that this incident was a tragedy. Mr Sherriff has lost his life and the appellant must serve the sentence imposed upon him.”