That is what the jury in Billy Livesley’s murder trial were told yesterday by Tim Clark QC, the man defending David Myles Connors who stands co-accused of murdering the 21-year-old last December.
When he struck Billy in the head with a pry bar in a dark car park, he was “acting instinctively” and did so with what he thought was “an appropriate level of force” as Billy ran towards him, Mr Clark told them.
After 10 days of evidence, the jury must soon decide if the 26-year-old from Layton Road, Preston, and his brother Peter Connors, 32, are guilty of the dad-to-be’s murder.
Both defendants have denied the charge, which relates to an attack on Billy in a car park off Bickershaw Lane.
Billy died on December 29, a day after succumbing to injuries caused by a blow to the head.
A jury of four men and eight women have heard evidence from numerous witnesses, including Billy’s pregnant girlfriend Leah Galvin and both defendants.
Yesterday at Manchester Crown Court, closing remarks from both defence barristers were heard.
The Defence barrister for Peter Connors, Ben Myers QC, said to the jury that Connors must be acquitted of both murder and manslaughter if they are not certain he encouraged his brother to attack Billy on that night.
He said: “It doesn’t matter if his issue was with Billy Livesley. Because even if he was angry with Billy, he is not guilty unless he was doing things to encourage his brother to attack.
“That means that if the only thing on Peter Connors’ mind was a confrontation or having words with Billy...that makes him not guilty.”
He also told the jury that the case against his client, Peter Connors, had been “fertile territory for unfairness.”
After going over the internet searches Peter Connors made in the days after the incident, such “getting jailed for something you have not done,” Mr Myers said: “Are those the thoughts of someone who has done something wrong?”
“That should send a chill through anyone who is interested in preventing what we say is a wrongful conviction. We say that the case against Peter Connors is fertile territory for unfairness because of his background, because of the emotion in a case like this, because of where our sympathies may naturally lie.
“Because he (Peter Connors) was angry, because he had fallen out with Billy Livesley in the past. Because of his unattractive behaviour after the time his brother had struck Billy Livesley. Because of all those things.
“They are deeply prejudicial, and we say none of them get closer to proving guilt.”
Defence barrister for David Connors, Mr Tim Clark QC, then addressed the jury.
His first action was to remind the jurors that they were not there to decide who killed Billy, but rather what was the intent.
“Billy Livesley’s death was a tragedy. He had his faults, but his family deserved to see him grow up and his family deserved a long happy life. That did not happen because of the actions of my client,” Mr Clarke QC says.
“Your task will not be to decide who killed Billy Livesley, your task will be to decide if my client was not acting in self-defence.”
He went on: “This was a chance encounter, not a planned attack. There was in fact no plot to set up or to harm Billy Livesley that night.
“We submit there is simply no evidence of any plot or plan to harm Billy. There were no discussion of roles to be played or actions to take.”
He moved on to why there was a pry bar in the van, reminding the jurors that it had been used for a recent burglary. “He is a burglar, not a violent man,” Mr Clark says of David Connors.
“He is not a weapons carrier, he is a thief.
“It was used as a weapon, we know that, but that is not why it was there.”
Mr Clark also said that both defence and prosecution witnesses sensed a confrontation would occur at the car park.
“Leah Galvin’s view was that something was clearly going to happen.
“So why is it so ridiculous that my client thinks something was going to happen?
“All the witnesses say it was apparent to them that violence was about to ensue between those two men. The overwhelming evidence is that there was a confrontation that led my client (David Connors) to believe, reasonably and honestly, that Peter Connors was about to be struck by Billy Livesley.”
Mr Clark said David Connors would have been aware of Billy’s “aura of fear” necessary of a cocaine dealer, and his capability for violence.
“My client had a second at most to assess the situation and the threat there was to him,” he said.
Mr Clark added: ”The reality is sadly that my client was safer stood on his feet with a bar in his hands than running away.”
“As far as my client was concerned, it was a man running straight at him, running fast, with a look on his face that would be terrifying to see.”
Of the attack, Mr Clark said: “One blow. No repeated hitting. No standing over him gloating. No further attempt to go near or harm Billy Livesley.
“This is consistent with a defensive action rather than an aggressive action.”
Mr Clark then described David Connors as “a slight and timid man and has no knowledge of how to use violence.
“He acted instinctively with what he thought was the appropriate level of force,” he said, adding: ”My client’s action was to get a dangerous man away from him.”
He described the incident as having a “one in million” outcome that could not have been foreseen.
Throughout his closing statement, Mr Clark also made frequent remarks that the prosecution’s case had largely been built “on the evidence of a discredited liar,” referring to Christopher Price, cousin of both David and Peter Connors.
Mr Price had given a detailed police statement earlier this year, footage of which was shown to the jury at the start of the trial, only for Mr Price to take to the witness stand and declare he had told the police “a pack of lies.”
He said: “He lied to police in interview. That is the definition of an outrage.
“Mr Price didn’t just lie when he came to the witness box, he lied from the start. He lied to the police in that interview, we know his behaviour showed a total lack of respect to everyone.
That is the man upon whom a lot of the prosecution relies.
“We say that source is a dangerous source to rely on because he is a liar.”
In closing, he told the jury: “Do your job, do justice” as he went over the questions they must answer when deciding whether the defendants are guilty or not guilty.
“Don’t mix up outcomes with intentions,” he concluded.
The case will continue today with the closing statements of Judge Alan Conrad QC.