Key witness in manslaughter trial found hanged

PUBLISHED: 10:47 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:31 06 May 2010

The Blackberry Jack pub which was the scene of the argument which led to the death of Christian Noble

The Blackberry Jack pub which was the scene of the argument which led to the death of Christian Noble

A KEY witness in a manslaughter trial for which a man was jailed indefinitely was found hanged at his home in St Albans on Tuesday morning. An ambulance was called to Gary Hill s house in Regent Close at around 6am on Tuesday morning. They alerted the pol

A KEY witness in a manslaughter trial for which a man was jailed indefinitely was found hanged at his home in St Albans on Tuesday morning.

An ambulance was called to Gary Hill's house in Regent Close at around 6am on Tuesday morning.

They alerted the police who confirmed that they found the 38-year old's lifeless body there but said there were no suspicious circumstances.

A post-mortem was due to be held today (28/8) and an inquest opened and adjourned.

Gary Hill was one of the chief prosecution witnesses in the case against Sam Sturnham, formerly of Harness Way, St Albans, early last year.

St Albans Crown Court heard that the pub brawl which led to Christian Noble's death, took place outside Blackberry Jack's in St Brelade's Place, Jersey Farm on May 19, 2006.

Sturnham, then aged 29, admitted binge drinking maybe as many as 20 pints of strong lager on that day and trouble erupted just before closing time.

He claimed he had been annoyed by Gary Hill's bragging and admitted needling him for about an hour. Mr Hill then headbutted Sturnham in the face.

Mr Noble attempted to act as peacemaker and efforts were made to keep the two men apart. Mr Hill was persuaded to leave the pub by Mr Noble and another friend but Sturnham and his brother followed them outside.

What then followed was disputed by Sturnham who claimed he had first hit Mr Hill who had run away then hit Mr Noble after being pushed in the face by him with an open hand.

Prosecution witnesses alleged that Mr Noble tried to intervene to calm things down.

The prosecution lawyer said although Mr Noble was punched in the face he got up and tried to intercede with Sturnham again. Sturnham then punched him again even harder causing him to fall backwards and hit his head hard on the ground.

An ambulance was called but Mr Noble refused to go to hospital returning instead to Mr Hill's home where he then lived with his wife. Attempts to rouse him the next day at 10am failed and he was taken to Hemel Hempstead Hospital where he died at 6pm.

A pathologist's report revealed he had suffered two skull fractures which caused pressure on the brain and led to brain stem death.

* Sturnham asked for permission to appeal against the verdict and sentence, arguing he had not committed any violent offences before the manslaughter of Mr Noble, but both channels of appeal have been refused by a judge reviewing the papers.

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