Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hertfordshire pub landlord cleared over friend's death

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 who claimed he was indulging in "horseplay" when he injured a friend has been cleared of manslaughter.

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.

A jury at Luton Crown Court found Mr Harrington, of High Street, Redbourn, not guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Harrington had denied deliberately punching Mr Hutchinson.

'Drank at pub'

The defendant told the jury: "I think I slapped him. Terry was a friend - I wouldn't have punched him."

Opening the case earlier in the week, prosecutor Robert O'Sullivan QC said: "Mr Harrington did not intend to kill Terry Hutchinson."

Mr Hutchinson was a local man who had moved to Thailand in 2008, where he had married.

In May last year he was back in the area, visiting family and friends. He had been drinking in the Red Lion in Bushey, before being driven at 17:00 BST to the defendant's then pub, The Bull, in Redbourn.

They drank at the pub before the two men and another friend, who had joined them, were taken to the golf club in Watford where members of Mr Harrington's extended family were attending a wedding reception.

In the witness box Mr Harrington said he had been a publican for 25 years.

"We have been very good friends. Terry was a very close friend of mine. He had a very unique nature," he said.

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