Wigan pub killer's manslaughter charge could be changed to murder

Lee Christy
Lee Christy

A man has admitted killing a Wigan pub regular.

Derek Bentham appeared before a Manchester Crown Court judge to plead guilty to the manslaughter of Lee Christy in September this year.

But that might not be the end of the matter because prosecutors have been given until the beginning of December to decide whether to accept the 46-year-old’s plea - or insist that he still be prosecuted for the more serious charge of murder.

If that is the case Bentham will face trial by jury in March next year.

If the Crown Prosecution Service concludes that there isn’t sufficient evidence to show he intended to kill 45-year-old Mr Christy (right) when he attacked him, then the guilty plea will stand and Bentham will learn his fate on December 20.

It was at around 10.55pm on Saturday September 25 that police were called to the Bear’s Paw on Market Street to reports that a man in his 40s had been assaulted.

He was taken to hospital for treatment and remained in a critical condition before losing his battle for life the following Tuesday.

Paying tribute to him, Mr Christy’s family said: “Lee was a well-loved father, son and brother.

“He was a good friend to many, a happy-go-lucky guy who loved a pint, and a selfless man who would give you his last penny.

“He is going to be sorely missed by his daughter Leah, his mother Olive, Benny, his sister Julie, and four brothers, Darren, David, Stewart, Andrew, and brother-in-law Phil. A vast amount of friends will miss his bubbly personality and good company.

“His family would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support at this difficult time.”

Bentham, of Smithwood Avenue, Hindley, was arrested on suspicion of murder soon after the attack and had previously appeared before Wigan and Leigh magistrates who immediately sent the case to crown court because of its serious nature.

Standing in the dock at Manchester Crown Square, Bentham was remanded in custody after the manslaughter admission was made.