The family of a man who died from a single punch by a 16-year-old as he cowered defencelessly have slammed his killer’s three-year sentence as a ‘kick in the stomach’.
Connor Stewart was filmed on a mobile phone as he ‘shadow boxed’ Michael Rhodes, 47, before lashing out with a killer blow that fractured his skull.
Mr Rhodes can be seen holding his hands up to protect himself and trying to walk away from trouble before he was attacked in Blackpool, Lancashire.
The footage, which was shown at Preston Crown Court, then shows Mr Rhodes being punched in the face by Stewart.
Michael Rhodes, can be seen holding his hands up in defence as he is attacked by Connor Stewart
The teenager (left) will serve a sentence of three years in a young offenders’ institute after admitting killing Mr Rhodes (right)
Drug addict Mr Rhodes is then seen falling back onto the pavement, smacking the back of his head hard on the concrete.
As Stewart runs off with a number of other youths, Mr Rhodes is left lying motionless on the ground, while one person can be heard shouting: ‘Oi, he’s bleeding. His head’s bleeding.’
And another voice says: ‘He’s killed him.’
The court was told Stewart, who initially told police he had acted in self-defence but later admitted a charge of manslaughter, returned to the scene and urged his victim to ‘wake up’, before fleeing once more.
The sickening footage was widely shared on social media in the days and weeks that followed the brutal assault on Saturday, May 20.
And the teen showed little emotion as it was replayed in court on Monday morning.
The teenager will serve a sentence of three years in a young offenders’ institute after admitting killing Mr Rhodes outside a shop.
He can be named after a challenge by the press on reporting restrictions.
Wearing a black hooded top, Stewart sat staring at the floor as the court heard how Mr Rhodes was ‘baited and abused’ by youngsters after rowing with staff inside a corner shop.
Stewart ‘shadow boxed’ his victim Mr Rhodes, 47, before lashing out with a killer blow which left him mortally injured with a fractured skul
The footage, which was shown at Preston Crown Court, Lancashire, shows Mr Rhodes being punched in the face by Stewart
Stewart, from Blackpool, wasn’t one of the youths abusing Mr Rhodes, but arrived in the street as it continued.
‘Perhaps the easiest way to describe the defendant’s actions is to say he was playing the big man in front of this group,’ Mr McEntee said.
‘We know the victim was a subject of fun because he was known to be a drug abuser.
‘He was referred to there as a crackhead.
‘He was, though, not wholly intoxicated, and not steady on his feet. He was an easy target.’
Mr Rhodes suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital, where he remained in a critical condition for weeks before his death on Sunday, June 11, more than three weeks later.
In a statement read before the court, his mum Margaret said Mr Rhodes was a former plasterer and chef who had battled problems with drink and drugs.
And she described her son ‘struggling to cling to life’, and doctors telling the family that, even if he did survive his ordeal, he would never have any real quality of life.
Mr Rhodes is then seen falling back onto the pavement, smacking the back of his head hard on the concrete
Defending, Julie Taylor said Stewart was a troubled youngster, she said he had been exposed to domestic violence growing up, before his mother and father separated when he was a young teenager.
‘The fact the video exists and was circulated on social media has nothing to do with the defendant. He was very distraught and he has been unable to watch it,’ she said.
His Honour Judge Mark Brown said Stewart would receive full credit for his early guilty plea, and that his age and troubled past would be taken into account.
He said: ‘This is obviously a very tragic case and I accept you did not intend to kill Mr Rhodes or do him really serious harm.
‘However, you were prepared to use force and did so showing off to your friends, and he died because of your violent conduct towards him.
‘Although he had issues with drugs and alcohol, he was not a violent person and would always shy away from conflict.’
Speaking after the trial, Mr Rhodes’ family expressed their unhappiness with the sentence.
She told the Blackpool Gazette: ‘We wanted more but we were not hopeful. We had a feeling this is how it would go. It will never be enough.
‘I just feel numb. He (Stewart) has a future but Michael has not. My mum has not. I have no brother anymore.
‘I expected closure and I don’t feel I got it, to be honest. This is like a kick in the stomach.’