Man Cleared After Soldier Death

28 September 2011, 15:50 | Updated: 28 September 2011, 15:55

A man who killed a paratrooper with a fatal punch has been cleared of manslaughter.

Levy Chandler, 26, struck Private Rory McWilliams during a scuffle in the early hours of the morning.

The 20-year-old solider was spending his last weekend at home in Northampton before being due to be sent to Afghanistan with the Second Battalion the Parachute Regiment, .

Northampton crown court that in the early hours of February 6 this year he had come across his ex-girlfriend's new partner, Glen Thompson.

He confronted Mr Thompson over a toy belonging to his year-old daughter that had been broken during a row between him and his ex-girlfriend on Christmas Day.

Mr Chandler intervened and delivered a fatal punch. It knocked Rory McWilliams to the ground. He he suffered a fractured skull and irreversible brain injuries and died in hospital on February 12.

The solider from Southfields, Northampton had gone out at around 10pm on February 5 this year. He was with a friend and his brother Matthew, 25, who serves in the Royal Marines.

They had left a night club in Northampton town centre and were on their way to another at shortly before 2am on 6 February when they passed a group including Levi Chandler and Glen Thompson, who were going towards Fever night club.

When Rory McWilliams was told one of the men was his ex-partner's new boyfriend Glen Thompson he turned and went over to them behind Domino's Pizza in St Peters Way car park. One witness said he was aggressive and angry.

Mr Chandler was to tell the police Rory McWilliams had said to Mr Thompson: "Oi are you that ..... Glen?"

Mr Thompson and Rory were scuffling when Levi Chandler intervened coming from behind to deliver the blow. "He was unconscious before he hit the ground," said prosecutor Alisdair Smith.

Mr Chandler and Mr Thompson left the scene.

Levy Chandler, 25, from of Pomfret Court, River View in Northampton pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. The jury of 7 women and 5 women found him not guilty. One woman juror was in tears as the verdict was delivered.

When Mr Chandler was arrested at his home the next day he was sleepy, hung-over and smelt of alcohol. Later he said he had drunk 7 or 8 pints of lager that night.

He told the police Mr Thompson had been backing away when Rory McWilliams had approached him with clenched fist. He said he intervened and hit him once to stop it.

In the witness box he said: "My friend was in danger, as I saw it, so I was not ready to walk away. Glen looked like he was in trouble what would you have done?"

Brian Dean, defending, asked him: "You now know Rory suffered fatal injuries. If you had realised he was in such terrible trouble what would you have done?"

Mr Chandler replied: "I would have called an ambulance. I feel terrible. He's got a daughter and I I've got two daughters myself and now she's not got a dad and that's down to my actions on that night. I think about it every day. It's horrible."