Neath pub landlord Mark Winchcombe 'killed by a ferocious punch'

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Mark WinchcombeImage source, Family photo
Image caption,
Mark Winchcombe died last September

A landlord was killed after being struck by a "ferocious punch" outside his pub, a court has heard.

Mark Winchcombe, 58, died of a "catastrophic brain injury" hours after being struck near the Smiths Arms in Neath last September.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mr Winchcombe and two other men were trying to move on a "gang of youths" when he was hit.

The 16-year-old accused, who cannot be named due to reporting restrictions, denies manslaughter.

Prosecutor John Hipkin QC told the court that in the early hours of Sunday 1 September, the defendant and a group of friends were "out on the streets" of Neath and had been taking cocaine.

The group had then come into a "verbal exchange" with a man called Geraint Morgan but "no violence transpired". 

Mr Winchcombe, who was drinking with friends inside his pub at the time, was "asked to move on a gang of youths" from outside.

The court heard that Mr Winchombe and Mr Morgan were soon joined by taxi driver Stephen Davies who was passing by.

Image caption,
Mark Winchcombe ran the Smith Arms pub

The driver, who had known the pub landlord for a "couple of years" through picking up customers, told the court he decided to stop his vehicle as he was "worried that Mark was in trouble".

"Straight away I could see a worried look on his face so I immediately stopped the car and see if I could diffuse the situation," he said.

A video captured on the mobile phone of one of the youths was played to the court.

Mr Hipkin said the defendant could be heard on the video telling Mr Winchcombe "I'm not gonna hit you mate, I'm not gonna hit you", seconds before he is allegedly struck to the ground.

The court heard five of the "gang" then ran off, while one of the group stayed to try and help Mr Winchcombe.

Mr Hipkin told the court that the pub landlord was taken to Morriston Hospital "deeply unconscious" where he was examined by neurosurgeons, who "rapidly concluded" the injury was "unsurvivable".

Mr Winchcombe was pronounced dead at 04:00 that morning.

The prosecuting barrister told the court that the defendant sent two Snapchat messages to his friends shortly after the incident, and that the first said "oops", and the second said "tell them not to say anything... boys you shouldn't say anything".

Nicola Powell, defending, asked taxi driver Mr Davies whether Mr Morgan and Mr Winchcombe were "giving it back" to the youths when he arrived, as the video shows both side were "swearing at each other" and "giving it large".

Mr Davies agreed, but said there was "no violence" and there was "no threat" as it was "two against six".

She suggested that the defendant had "dared" Mr Winchcombe to hit him and this had "angered" the 58-year-old, but Mr Davies said he had not heard that.

The trial continues.

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