Beds, Herts & Bucks

Asda car park death: Alan Watts guilty of manslaughter

Alan Watts
Image caption Alan Watts claimed he acted in self defence after Brian Holmes grabbed his arm

A man has been jailed for five years for punching and killing another man during a row over a disabled space in a supermarket car park.

Alan Watts, 65, denied the manslaughter of Brian Holmes, 64, who died after being punched outside Asda in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, on 3 August.

He told Luton Crown Court he acted in self defence when he struck Mr Holmes, who fell and fractured his skull.

Ann Evans, prosecuting, said Watts showed "extraordinary violence".

During the trial, the jury heard that at about 15:00 BST, the defendant, of Lindsell Crescent, Biggleswade was sitting in his Range Rover in the car park, waiting for his wife who was shopping.

He saw Mr Holmes walk up to a vehicle parked in a disabled parking bay and put a bag in the boot.

'Moment of madness'

The court heard the car belonged to Mr Holmes's wife Christine, 60, a blue disabled badge holder, who was in the store.

Image caption Brian Holmes was a "caring, loving man"

Watts agreed he called out sarcastically through the open passenger door window: "You look like you need a wheelchair".

The court heard that Watts then got out of his car and an altercation occurred, which resulted in him punching Mr Holmes twice before he fell to the floor, fracturing his skull. Watts then drove away.

Mr Holmes - who had recently survived cancer - was flown to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where a care team concluded his injuries were "non-survivable", the jury heard.

The following day, his life-support system was turned off.

In his defence, Watts said he was acting in self-defence and Mr Holmes was "effing and blinding" and pulling his arm.

Sentencing Watts, Judge Michael Kay, QC, said it was a case of manslaughter "akin to road rage", adding: "You didn't wait to see what you could do to help. That would have been the actions of a humane and remorseful individual."

Ruth Bowskill, temporary chief crown prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern, said: "This case shows how a moment of madness can change people's lives forever and represents a tragedy for the family of Mr Holmes."

Det Insp Liz Mead, from Bedfordshire Police, said the case was a "sharp and timely reminder for people to think before they act".

Mr Holmes's family described him in a statement, as a "caring, loving man with no enemies and many friends".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites