Morecambe dad-of-three's killer is jailed for manslaughter after fatal prison attack
A HMP Lancaster Farms inmate who caused a dad-of-three's death by a single punch to the chest has been jailed for manslaughter.
A post mortem examination found Richard Hamill, 39, had a pre existing brain aneurysm, and the blow, although not a great deal of force, directly caused it to rupture, with the resulting subarachnoid haemorrhage deemed "unsurvivable".
Mr Hamill's mother and three other members of family watched from the public gallery at Preston Crown Court as killer Joshua Kettle, 30, was jailed for three and a half years, of which he will serve around half before being released on licence.
Kettle, who has 41 convictions, had been recalled to jail to serve the rest of a 27 month sentence imposed in December 2017 for kidnapping, arson, taking a vehicle without consent and dangerous driving, related to car jacking a woman in Nottinghamshire.
The prosecution believes the motive for the assault was to remind Mr Hamill he owed a debt for Spice as his cellmate told the authorities he had been running up debts on the wing, and a trace of the drug was found in his system after his death.
Up until four days before the attack, Mr Hamill had been on a regime called Own Protection as he had previously been assaulted because of the debts, and he frequently called his mother, asking her to send him money.
Prosecuting, Francis McEntee said at about 5.30pm on June 23, Richard Hamill was in the main association area of the Derwent wing, standing next to a pool table.
CCTV shows Kettle come down a flight of stairs from the first floor and approach Mr Hamill from behind, before walking to his right side and punching him once.
About 10 seconds after the blow, Mr Hamill fell to the floor and collapsed, then lost consciousness.
Prison officers immediately began first aid, and paramedics transferred him to Royal Preston Hospital, but he did not regain consciousness and died at 2:44am on June 28.
Dr Alison Armour conducted a post-mortem examination and found although the aneurysm could have ruptured at any time with fatal consequences, it had not done until the blunt chest trauma was inflicted by Kettle.
In a harrowing statement, the victim's mother said she had a close bond with 'Ricky' , who was the oldest of her eight children, and that his death came as a "massive shock to the whole family".
Mr McEntee added: "She's quite clear in saying he's no angel but still says he was a good person and loved his family."
Defending, Matthew Radstone said Kettle was deeply sorry, adding: "If for a second he would have known these would have been the consequences he would no doubt have thought very carefully about his actions."
The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Robert Altham, said the violence was "utterly unprovoked" and said at the time of being struck Mr Hamill posed a risk to no one.
He said: " I have seen, and indeed had read to me, a personal statement from his mother. She sets out her profound sense of loss at the death of the eldest of her children.
"He was plainly a very precious man to all his family, both young and old."
He added: " One can't tell with any precision the amount of force used."
Det Chief Insp Gareth Willis, of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Investigation Team said: “Mr Hamill’s death was both tragic and entirely avoidable.
“He was approached by the offender and without warning was struck once to the chest, suffering catastrophic and fatal injuries.
“The prosecution accepted, based on the evidence, that Joshua Kettle never intended to kill or cause really serious harm. However his actions were clearly reckless and resulted in the death of Mr Hamill.
"The death has had a huge impact on Mr Hamill's friends and family. I can only hope his acceptance of guilt and the subsequent sentence offers some comfort to them and provides closure to what has been a very sad and tragic incident.
“My thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.”
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