Football agent blames friend for murder of off-duty policeman

CourtsBy Sunday World
Policeman Neil Doyle was killed on a Christmas night out
Policeman Neil Doyle was killed on a Christmas night out

A football agent accused of murdering an off-duty policeman on a Christmas night out in Liverpool has blamed his co-accused for the killing.

Andrew Taylor, 29, said Timmy Donovan, 30, was the man responsible for the death of Pc Neil Doyle, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Taylor, a £40,000-a-year football consultant, is jointly accused of murder, with Donovan and a third man, Christopher Spendlove, 30, following the death of the newly-wed police officer.

Pc Doyle, 36, died from head injuries after he and two colleagues were attacked in Liverpool city centre in the early hours of December 19, 2014.

The three defendants also face charges of wounding with intent to Pc Robert Marshall and causing grievous body harm to Pc Michael Steventon. All three accused deny all the charges.

The court has heard the trouble started after the two groups of men came across each other and Taylor said: "Evening officer, are you having a nice night?"

The defendant told the jury at the time he had "no idea" Pc Doyle and his two friends were policemen and he used the word "officer" as a "term of endearment" - but Pc Doyle took offence and told him to "f*** off" he claimed.

Prosecutor Mr Nicholas Johnson QC, cross-examining the defendant, put it to Taylor that it was one of his group who threw the first punch.

"Who killed Neil Doyle?" he asked the defendant.

Taylor replied: "Mr Donovan. I know for sure that I have not hit him."

Mr Johnson questioned why the witness had never said he saw Donovan hit Pc Doyle suggesting there was a "conspiracy of silence" not to lay blame on each other.

Taylor replied: "No. I just wanted to stick to exactly what happened."

Mr Johnson continued: "The truth, of course, is that it was both of you who tried to attack Mr Doyle?"

Taylor replied: "No."

The prosecutor said: "You were responsible for most of it, weren’t you?"

Taylor replied: "I wouldn't say most of it."

Mr Johnson continued: "The three of you, acting together, decided to sort them out because you had a problem with Mr Doyle. You followed him, attacked him and intended to cause him really serious harm."

Taylor replied: "Absolutely not. No way."

The jury were again shown CCTV footage capturing the trouble.

Taylor, who received a scholarship at Oklahoma City University to play football and study - gaining a 2:1 degree in sociology, has claimed Pc Doyle had been "ultra-aggressive" in his mannerisms and that he had felt "intimidated".

The jury were shown the footage again, frame by frame, Mr Johnson pointed out Pc Doyle could be seen flicking his head repeatedly to say, "move on" as he exchanged words with Taylor.

He then crosses over the road and walks away, followed shortly after by Taylor, walking in the same direction to Collquit Street where the fatal incident took place.

CCTV showed the two groups of men facing up to each other and Pc Doyle apparently backing away as Taylor and Donovan move forwards.

Mr Johnson continued: "What I'm saying to you is that the footage simply does not bear out your account?"

Taylor replied: "I would say it loosely does."

The trial continues.