Christopher Walters, 25, died after being held down (BPM)
A mechanic who killed a man after holding him on the ground during a ‘citizen’s arrest’ has been jailed for 38 months.
Benjamin Hunt, 32, chased Christopher Walters, 25, after he had damaged a car with a hammer in May, 2019, in Longton, Staffordshire.
Father-of-two Hunt held Mr Walters by the neck, on the ground, for several minutes, using his body weight to pin him down even after Mr Walters lost consciousness.
Police arrived at the scene and found Mr Walters to be ‘limp and lifeless’, and he was pronounced dead later that afternoon.
Hunt, of Heathcote Street, Longton, appeared at Stafford Crown Court for sentencing on Friday after admitting to manslaughter.
Hunt’s work colleague Jonathan Hassall, who was also involved in the incident, took his own life just days before he was due to go on trial for manslaughter.
Mr Walters’ mother Dawn Price, 58, described the sentence as ‘a joke’ when speaking after the case.
She said: ‘I’m not happy at all; it’s disgusting. It’s one big joke. It’s disgraceful and shocking.
‘I don’t think the sentence is long enough. I think it’s absolutely appalling. We heard in court that Hunt held my son’s neck down, that’s not a citizen’s arrest.’
The court heard that Hunt worked with Mr Hassall at the latter’s New Road Garage business, in Speedwell Street..
On May 15, 2019, the two men were at work when Mr Walters ran up and used a sledgehammer to smash the windows of an Audi belonging to Mr Hassall’s son.
Hunt and Mr Hassall chased after Mr Walters and were able to detain him in nearby Wood Street.
Prosecutor Robert Price said: ‘Mr Hunt then held Mr Walters around the neck. Mr Hassall held him to the lower body. Mr Walters, in the initial stage, was resisting and shouting unusual comments.
‘Mr Hunt did not release at that point as he was fearful of what Mr Walters might do to him or those around him.
‘There came a point where Mr Walters stopped resisting. Mr Hunt thought he was either asleep or unconscious.
‘When Mr Walters stopped resisting, and when he was clearly unconscious, Mr Hunt should have released his hold of Mr Walters’ neck.
‘He did not. His actions at that point, he acknowledged, became excessive and unlawful.’
Mr Price told the court that Mr Walters left his home where he lived with his mum and met with some friends earlier in the day.
They told police that he seemed ‘stressed and ill at ease’ but it remains unclear why he went on to damage the car at New Road Garage.
Hunt and Mr Walters did not know each other before the incident.
A post-mortem examination found signs of oxygen deprivation in Mr Walters’ brain, and significant bruising to his neck.
The cause of death was given as compression of the neck.
Barry White, mitigating, said Hunt had told him that he would ‘never do it again’, and that he had learnt a ‘very hard lesson’.
Mr White told the court that the death of Mr Hassall had also had a huge impact on Hunt.
Judge Kristina Montgomery told Hunt that she accepted his claim that his purpose had been to apprehend someone he believed to be an offender.
But she said Mr Walters’ death was a consequence of Hunt holding on after it was no longer necessary for him to do so, at which point there was an ‘appreciable risk of causing harm’.
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