Tears in dock after court clears manslaughter accused

Police at the scene in King Street
Police at the scene in King Street

A WIGAN doorman, accused of unlawfully killing a man whom he had pushed backwards, has walked from court a free man.

David Hanbury broke down in tears in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court when the jury of five women and seven men found him not guilty of manslaughter.

His weeping sister and other friends and relatives hugged him after he was discharged from the dock.

During the week-long trial the court heard that 60-year-old Michael Warhurst died after Mr Hanbury intervened when Mr Warhurst was being spoken to by other doormen outside the Chicago Rock night club in Wigan town centre.

Despite being told not to get involved Mr Hanbury, who did not work at the club and was off duty, began speaking to him.

CCTV footage of the October 8 incident showed Mr Warhurst, described as a loner, being ejected from the foyer of the club because he was already intoxicated. While he was still outside in an agitated state and swearing the doormen told him to go home but he was not regarded as aggressive.

Mr Hanbury, who by chance had been drinking in company including Mr Warhurst earlier that night in the nearby Last Orders pub, then arrived on the scene in King Street.

Simon Driver, prosecuting, said that 30-year-old Mr Hanbury warned one of the bouncers that Mr Warhurst was capable of hurting him.

The footage showed him standing in front of Mr Warhurst pointing at him and “then putting his hands towards his chest and pushing him quite forcibly backwards. He stumbled back across the road finally falling backwards hitting his head on the opposite kerb.”

Mr Hanbury walked off about 10 yards but then walked back to the prone figure and tried to bring him round and an ambulance was called. Mr Warhurst came to and got to his feet but then vomited and fell to the ground, said Mr Driver.

Mr Warhurst, a divorced father-of-one, of Scot Lane, Newtown, was rushed to hospital where he was found to have suffered a significant rear skull fracture with massive bleeding to his brain. His condition was inoperable and he died just after noon the next day, October 9.

Mr Hanbury, of Bluebell Avenue, Beech Hill, denied manslaughter and told the jury that he had warned the other doormen that the victim might have weapons in his bag. He had intended carrying on his way but Mr Warhurst approached him and was being foul mouthed and he was wary of him.

He said he told Mr Warhurst to go home and when asked by his barrister, Steven Swift, what was going through his mind he said, “Fear. I wanted some space, he was too close. I could have punched him but I’m not that sort of person. He was too close and too intimidating in my personal space.”

Mr Hanbury, who broke down while giving evidence, admitted that he then pushed him but explained, “It was a fingertip push to the top of his chest. I expected him to stumble back one step and regain his composure. I didn’t want to hurt him.

“He went over the kerb and went backwards. I felt shock and disbelief, I could not believe what I had just done, there was no intent for him to fall over, I wanted to move him back a pace or two. When I saw him fall my heart sank.”

He admitted he started to walk off in shock but then went back to help him. Mr Warhurst came round but then collapsed again and Mr Hanbury rang for an ambulance. He maintained that he had just “eased him back, I wouldn’t call it a push.”