Football hooligan Liam Jones jailed for fatal one punch attack (Picture: SWNS)
A football hooligan who punched a rival fan to death has been jailed for manslaughter.
Liam Jones, 20, assaulted Richard Wheeler, 56, during an altercation outside the Bessemer Pub in Sheffield city centre at around 11pm on July 15.
Mr Wheeler had headed out for what was to be a day of birthday celebrations with friends in Sheffield city centre, but the celebrations came to a sudden end when he got into an altercation with Jones.
After becoming engaged in a scuffle earlier in the day, the pair bumped into eachother again at the city centre pub, where Jones approached his victim and attacked him with one punch to the head that knocked him unconscious and left him with traumatic brain injury.
Richard Wheeler was celebrating his birthday when he was attacked and killed by Liam Jones (Picture: South Yorkshire Police / SWNS)
Mr Wheeler fell backwards after being struck and hit his head on the back of the pavement. He was then rushed to hospital in critical condition, where he died from his injuries ten days later.
Jones was jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday.
The court heard how Jones, a Sheffield United fan, was ‘motivated by the deceased’s allegiance to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’.
During the trial, Richard’s wife Tracy Wheeler called her husband her ‘rock’.
‘I was hoping and praying he would pull through. I wouldn’t leave his side,’ she told the court. ‘Never will I come to terms with having him taken from me.’
‘Watching him pass was traumatic, and that image will stay with me forever.
‘He was my rock, emotionally and physically. He helped me through treatment last year for breast cancer. I have one more operation but I can’t bring myself to go through it alone.
Jones approached his victim and attacked him with one punch to the head that knocked him unconscious and left him with traumatic brain injury requiring urgent surgery (Picture: SWNS)
‘I feel anger and hatred for the person who is responsible for my living life alone. No matter how much it hurts, I owe it to Richard to see that justice is served.’
She added: ‘This year should have been a celebration – my 50th birthday, our 10-year wedding anniversary, 30 years together, and beating breast cancer.
‘Now all I have is an urn.’
Jones had previously told probation officers he was the leader of a Sheffield United hooligan group.
On the night of the attack, Jones was captured on CCTV assaulting three other men who had been part of Mr Wheeler’s group at another pub, Maggie May’s in Trippet Lane.
Jones had punched a man during the incident, leaving him with a cut to his head which required glueing.
He also smashed a glass into the face of another man, prosecutors said.
Later in the evening, Jones found himself reunited with the group at The Bessemer Pub, and attacked Wheeler shortly after leaving the pub via a fire door.
The attack was ‘partially’ caught on CCTV.
Judge Wright, sentencing, said: ‘This was shocking, appalling violence in a public place.
She added: ‘Whether it was related to football or not, you had been intent on violence.’
‘You have used your allegiance to a football club to justify your use of violence, justifying it to yourself and others.’
‘You are clearly a young man lacking maturity and have learnt little from previous incidents.’
Jones’ previous offences included punching an opposition fan in the street, threatening behaviour, and throwing a missile at a football match.
He has been jailed for seven years, with an extended three years on licence in the community.
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