COUNTY NEWS: Pair jailed for manslaughter and GBH
A pair have been jailed for the manslaughter of a man during a late-night attack in a Sussex town.
Elliot Bourdon-Pierre and Matthew Smith attacked Brian and Andrew Hill by a taxi rank after a night out on February 3.
Both men denied a charge of manslaughter and one of grievous bodily harm (GBH) but were found guilty by a jury at the end of a court trial at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday (November 21).
They were sentenced to three years for the charge of grievous bodily harm and eight years for the manslaughter, which will run concurrently, police said.
Brian Hill, 60, from St Leonards, and his younger brother Andrew, 53, had been out in Hastings for a drink at French’s Bar in Robertson Street.
They left the bar at 12.40am and went to a fish and chip shop on the same road, while eating, they headed to the taxi rank on Havelock Road to go home.
Police said it was there, at the taxi rank, they met Smith and Bourdon-Pierre, who had also been on a night out in Hastings.
Smith insulted Andrew Hill, commenting on his appearance.
Both men were attacked by Smith, 22, of The Hawthornes, Broad Oak, Rye, and Bourdon-Pierre, 25, of Udimore Road, Rye, and Brian was punched and fell to the pavement hitting his head.
Police said Smith and Bourdon-Pierre left the scene, doubling back to the train station taxi rank.
Emergency services were called by other members of the public who saw the aftermath of the attack and went to help.
Brian was rushed to Royal Sussex County Hospital with serious head injuries.
Andrew had serious injuries, including broken ribs and injuries to his lungs and kidneys and was taken to the Conquest Hospital to be treated.
Brian never regained consciousness and died at 1.30pm on February 4.
A post-mortem revealed he died from a brain injury after hitting the pavement.
At the court trial on Friday (November 17), Bourdon-Pierre said he ‘accepted’ that he had ‘landed a punch’ on Brian Hill on his left cheek.
He said: “Brian just fell down. I felt the need to strike Brian because they were in it together (Brian and Andrew). It happened so fast. I just did what I thought was necessary at the time.
“I was devastated when I was told that Brian had died. I could not believe a man had died because of me.
“I feel so bad about what’s happened and if I could turn back the clock I would because I would not wish that on anyone. I am truly sorry.”
In giving his evidence, Smith said: “I punched Andrew because I thought I was going to be hurt myself.
“I started the exchange and lied about it in interview because I was scared.
“When we got into the cab we drove back up the road to see what had happened out of interest.”
Smith told the court he laughed while he was in the taxi after the attack because he ‘had been drinking’.
In the wake of the attack, police immediately started trying to piece together what had happened and who had been involved. They were able to find CCTV of the Hill brothers walking to get a taxi and the suspects on the same road, Havelock Road, where the attack had taken place.
The footage also showed the two suspects walking away after the attack. This enabled officers to identify them and trace them back to a nightclub in Robertson Street where they had been earlier.
They were were identified using the ID they used to enter the club.
Smith and Bourdon-Pierre were traced to Bourdon-Pierre’s home in Piltdown Close, Hastings, at 6am and arrested for grievous bodily harm.
When Brian died the following day they were further arrested for manslaughter.
With the two men arrested and bailed, officers began working on evidence to prove they were responsible for the attack which led to Brian’s death.
Officers used CCTV to begin to trace the movements of all four men during the evening and on interviewing all the suspects and Andrew, it became clear the unprovoked attack started as a result of Smith insulting Andrew and making threats towards him.
Police said three taxi drivers parked in Havelock Road all witnessed punches being thrown.
From one of the taxis, officers were able to go through the in-car CCTV and were able to see the assault taking place outside.
Although through a side window, it was key evidence for detectives to prove Bourdon-Pierre and Smith were involved in the attack and instigated it.
Smith admitted throwing the first punch but claimed self-defence as he feared for his safety as he claimed the Hills were much bigger than him.
Police said Smith threw the first punch striking Andrew, Bourdon-Pierre admitted punching Brian, missing the first time, hitting him the second attempt.
CCTV would suggest in addition to Smith’s punch, Bourdon-Pierre threw multiple punches at both Hill brothers.
CCTV around the town traced Smith and Bourdon-Pierre leaving the scene and walking back down Havelock Road, then then turned left and left again onto Middle Street and picked up another taxi on Station Approach outside Hastings train station.
They asked the taxi driver to take them back to Bourdon-Pierre’s home in Piltdown Close but requested he first drive back down Havelock Road rather than the quickest route on Devonshire Road.
Smith was caught on CCTV laughing in the taxi as they passed the scene of the attack.
With this evidence, detectives were able to charge them both with the manslaughter of Brian Hill and the grievous bodily harm of Andrew Hill in May this year.
Detective Inspector Duncan Elliott said: “This has been an extremely sad case to investigate. This involved two young men who went on a night out drinking. They came across two older men, the Hills, and carried out an unprovoked attack on them.
“The combination of alcohol and the pair looking for trouble, tragically ended in Brian losing his life and his brother Andy suffering serious physical and mental injuries. The pair claimed self-defence but the jury saw through this after reviewing all the evidence. Nothing will bring Brian back to his family but thankfully Elliot Bourdon-Pierre and Matthew Smith have been held responsible for Brian’s death and the assault on Andy.”