Don’t let one punch ruin a life

A family devastated by the loss of a son, father and partner after he was killed with a single punch have spoken about their agony in a bid to warn people about the potential consequences of violence.

Stuart Martin, 28, died after Kevin Strong hit him in the back of his head, rupturing an artery in his neck and killing him. It happened outside Bar Life nightclub in Wellingborough on Saturday, June 19, 2010.

Katie Harthen pictured with Shaun Johnson and Joyce Martin  with the new informative DVD "One Punch One Life" made in memory of Stuart Martin who died after an assault in Wellingborough in June 2010. Katie was Stuart's fiancee and holds a photograph of Stuart and their daughter Leah Jade Martin.

Katie Harthen pictured with Shaun Johnson and Joyce Martin with the new informative DVD "One Punch One Life" made in memory of Stuart Martin who died after an assault in Wellingborough in June 2010. Katie was Stuart's fiancee and holds a photograph of Stuart and their daughter Leah Jade Martin.

Mr Strong, formerly of Newtown Road, Little Irchester, was convicted of manslaughter last year and sentenced to five years in prison.

Mr Martin’s fiancee Katie Harthen, 23, and mother Joyce Martin have spoken about the effect the tragedy has had to warn people of the dangers of throwing just one punch.

The pair were interviewed for the four-minute film One Punch One Life, which is being shown in schools across the county.

The film includes CCTV footage of the fatal incident, as well as pictures of Stuart as a child and with Katie and the couple’s daughter Leah, who is now aged five.

Speaking to the Evening Telegraph, Katie, of Windermere Drive, Wellingborough, said: “I used to watch things on the news and think ‘on God that’s really bad’ and then carry on with the washing up and never think twice about it.

“I never would have thought it would happen to us.”

She said she hoped that showing youngsters the reality of what had happened and the effects it had had would make them think twice about raising their fists.

Katie said: “Hopefully they will just think before they act. Hopefully when they see it it will shock them a little bit.”

Joyce said the family had agreed to do the project in Stuart’s memory and to prevent other families from experiencing the same pain.

She said: “You wouldn’t want any family to go through that experience, it’s horrendous.

“We feel there’s nothing else we can do for him but it’s something that will keep his memory alive.

“I think he would want us to do it.”

Katie and Joyce’s film is being shown in schools to kick off a project which tasks teams of youngsters with finding their own creative way of promoting the message that low-level violence is serious and one punch is all it takes to ruin lives.

Shaun Johnson from the Arson Taskforce – which is running the initiative with police, the fire service, Connexions and Northamptonshire Education and Work Service – said the film was “extremely moving”.

He said: “When you watch the film, the attack is three seconds of madness.

“There are no winners in this.”