Ex-soldier in murder trial plea

A FORMER Wigan soldier accused of murder told a jury the incident was a “fight that had gone wrong”.

Stephen Thomas, who had only been released from prison on the day of the fatal attack, said that he had not intended to cause Darren Bolger serious harm.

Mr Bolger, 40, suffered a fractured skull during the January 27 incident, near the Salvation Army Hostel in St Helens, which led to fatal bleeding and brain swelling

Thomas, of no fixed address, denies murder. The incident occurred after both were separately refused access to the hostel. Thomas said the incident began after Mr Bolger shouted insults at him. He admitted walking or jogging across a grassed area and then scaling a 6ft high metal fence to get to Mr Bolger.

He told the court: “Basically he came at me first. He threw a can at me. He came to me and that’s why I inflicted violence upon him.”

Questioned by prosecutor Anne Whyte QC, Thomas admitted the can had not hit him and he had easily blocked Mr Bolger’s punch. “I wish I had walked away,” he said.

He agreed with Miss Whyte that he had hit Mr Bolger with “hard, fast punches,” giving him no time to defend himself, and causing him to fall to the floor with a loud noise. “I saw blood at the back of his head,” he said.

After also agreeing he had seen blood coming from Mr Bolger’s nose, Thomas confessed he had twice kicked him in the face. The second time occurred after he had walked off, but returned. He said the victim was coming round and sitting up.

When questioned by his barrister Nicholas Johnson QC about whether Mr Bolger posed a threat, Thomas answered, “I thought so, yes, because he was trying to get up.”