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Man jailed for fatal punch on innocent grandfather

Courtney Flannigan
Courtney Flannigan

A convicted shop-raider has been jailed for 10 years for the manslaughter of a pub attack victim who died after suffering complications linked to a heart condition.

Courtney Flannigan, 22, left Paul Smith with a fractured cheekbone and bleeding on the brain after knocking him down with a single punch in an unprovoked assault.

Birmingham Crown Court was told Mr Smith, a 49-year-old father and grandfather, died in hospital two months later, after his injuries forced doctors to change his heart medication.

The court heard Flannigan had attacked two other victims, leaving one unconscious, at the Edge of Town pub in Northampton on July 10 last year before targeting the "completely innocent" Mr Smith.

At the time of the attack, Mr Smith, who died on September 4, was waiting to learn whether a heart transplant was a viable option.

The court heard Flannigan was on bail after using a bottle to wound another man outside a shop in Northampton a year earlier, leaving the victim with a fractured cheekbone and eye socket.

It also emerged that Flannigan was given a 30-month sentence in 2013 for a robbery in which his accomplice threatened a shopkeeper with a machete.

Passing sentence on Flannigan, who admitted manslaughter and wounding, Judge Patrick Thomas QC said he was satisfied an extended licence period was necessary to protect the public from further harm.

Flannigan, of Pleydell Gardens, Northampton, was told he must serve at least two-thirds of his 10-year jail sentence and will be subject to an extended three-year licence after the custodial sentence expires.

The judge told Flannigan: "You were in such a state of rage that you threw a terrible punch at Paul Smith.

"It was a punch in the context of a continuing disorder in which you were the main aggressor and it was a punch to a completely innocent and defenceless man, not expecting for a moment what you did.

"I have come to the conclusion that your behaviour, no doubt in drink, on three separate occasions - extreme violence without any sensible reason whatsoever - is the plainest possible indication that you are a danger."

Detective Inspector Mark Hopkinson, from Northamptonshire Police CID, said: "I am pleased with the outcome of the case today and welcome the sentence handed down.

"This was a tragic and extremely complex case. Mr Smith had a serious pre-existing heart condition which he had been managing well for more than 10 years. On the night of the assault he was out enjoying a drink with his father.

"Our detailed and lengthy investigation involved a hugely complex medical inquiry which ultimately established a clinical causal link between the assault and his death.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Smith's family for their support and understanding during the investigation and I hope today's sentencing helps to bring some comfort and closure for them."