'Unacceptable': Northamptonshire fatal one-punch attack families made to wait for closure

The family of a man killed in a one-punch assault in Brafield-on-the-Green will have to wait before the attacker is sentenced, which the judge described as ‘unacceptable’.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 1:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 1:46 pm
Sam Whittet admitted manslaughter.

Sam Whittet was supposed to find out his punishment for the manslaughter of Peter Roberts at Northampton Crown Court today (Thursday, December 5).

Peter’s family members were visibly upset as the hearing was adjourned to January 6, and Whittet, 24, of Knuston Spinney in Irchester, was re-bailed.

Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking said: “I’m extremely disappointed. This can only serve to cause distress to all concerned.”

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Peter Roberts.

Peter, 56, suffered a fracture to the base of the skull and a bleed to the brain following the unprovoked attack at the working men's club on Bedford Road on December 10, 2016.

In July, 2017, Whittet was sentenced to 33 months in jail after admitting GBH and has since been released.

But having been in a coma since the assault Peter died in July 2018, and Whittet was re-arrested and charged with manslaughter before pleading guilty at the same court on November 14, 2019.

But the lack of a prison report, expected to confirm his good behaviour while in jail, meant his mitigation was incomplete and today's sentencing hearing could not go ahead.

Whittet's defence solicitor Gregory Bull told the court the defendant participated in a number of courses while incarcerated and was a trusted prisoner.

"He assisted other prisoners at risk of suicide and generally had a good rapport with certain leading officers in the prisons where he was," Mr Bull added.

Mr Bull said the report from HMP Onley and HMP Woodhill had been requested after the November hearing but it had not been sent to him yet, despite 'chasing it up' this week.

Judge Lucking repeated the order for the report to be done by December 19, in time for the January hearing, and apologised to the families.

"I'm sorry for the defendant and I'm sorry for the family and most importantly I'm not blind to the fact there is a bereaved family here who would have been looking for some degree of closure today," she said.