Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire pub landlord's 'horseplay' before death, Luton court hears

West Herts Golf Club Image copyright JOHN O REILLY
Image caption Terry Hutchinson, 64, fell to the ground on the way to a wedding reception

A pub landlord accused of killing a friend with a single blow on the way to a wedding reception has told a court they had been indulging in "horseplay".

John Harrington, 51, said he thought Terry Hutchinson, 64, was "messing about" when he fell at West Herts Golf Club near Watford in Hertfordshire.

Mr Hutchinson had suffered a traumatic brain injury, it is alleged.

Mr Harrington, of High Street in Redbourn, denies manslaughter at Luton Crown Court.

The court heard Mr Hutchinson, who had moved to Thailand in 2008, returned last May to visit friends.

Before the reception, he had been drinking with Mr Harrington at the pub he ran at the time, The Bull in Redbourn.

Mr Harrington told the jury they had been "laughing and joking" on the way to the golf club and Mr Hutchinson had poked him in the ear and slapped his head during the "banter".

'Absolutely devastated'

He told the court he had been kicked twice by Mr Hutchinson while they were in the car park but he did not believe they were delivered with malice.

Soon afterwards Mr Hutchinson ended up on the floor and died in hospital three days later on 27 May last year.

Pathologist Dr Nat Carey has told the jury the victim suffered a nose fracture consistent with a severe impact such as a full fist blow.

Mr Harrington said: "I think I slapped him. Terry was a friend - I wouldn't have punched him.

"I thought Terry was messing about."

He described Mr Hutchinson as a "very close friend" and said he felt "absolutely devastated".

"Nine times out of ten he would be winding me up. There was no animosity. It was just us behaving as children."

The case continues.

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