Jail After Jubilee Party Death

A man who killed a father-of-three at a Diamond Jubilee celebration party has been jailed for three years.

Liam Smith, 26, punched James Harris-Durkin, 21, during a "drunken dispute'' after a family barbecue in Orpington, Kent, in June.

Mr Harris-Durkin had been making advances towards Smith's brother's wife before the two men stepped outside to fight, the Old Bailey heard.

Smith punched Mr Harris-Durkin twice, causing him to "slump'' to the ground with injuries to the head and neck.

Smith left the party with his partner, Leanne Turner, 25, while Mr Harris-Durkin was lying unconscious on the ground.

An ambulance was called and paramedics tried to resuscitate the trainee car mechanic, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, but he died in hospital later that day.

A few days after the party, Turner and Smith told police they knew nothing of the fight, but in October they both pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and Smith, of Orpington, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Harris-Durkin's mother, Penny, said her son was a "lovely boy who was full of life'', "funny'' and "down to earth''.

She said: "I have been left with a void in my life and in my heart. As a family we will miss out on the best years of his life.

"He will always be in our hearts.''

Judge Peter Rook QC told Smith it was his "choice'' to engage in the fight.

He said: "It was not just one blow but it was two blows. In those few seconds you deprived Mr Harris-Durkin of his most precious possession, life itself.

"Three children are now left without their father. His death has had a devastating effect upon the family.''

Turner, from Rochester, Kent, who has a child with Smith, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and 200 hours' unpaid work.

Judge Rook said she had told "terrible lies'' after the "wholly unnecessary fight''.

He said: "You knew that your partner had made the blows and caused the victim to be on the ground.

"Your statement was designed to put the police off the track.''

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