A Halifax man who floored a frail pensioner in a revenge assault leaving him dying in the street then went on to pubs, a strip club and a casino, a court heard.
Jacob Crawshaw had been pestering Adrian Smith, 69, earlier in a Huddersfield public house trying to “wind him up” and when he later saw him outside in the street continued with his goading.
Jonathan Sharp prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court ytoday (Tues) Mr Smith eventually had enough, lunged at him catching his lip and it was then Crawshaw went after him in retaliation.
He got in front of him and punched him once with such force it caused him to fall back and fracture his skull when he hit the pavement hard.
He also suffered bleeding on the brain and although he was helped at the scene and rushed to Leeds General Infirmary his life could not be saved.
Crawshaw, 31 of Emscote Avenue, Halifax admitted manslaughter and was jailed for four years eight months.
Mr Sharp said Crawshaw had gone for a night out with his friend Alex Holland. “They had prepared by sharing a full bottle of vodka and some wine at home. By the time they arrived in the Huddersfield town centre they accepted they were already “tipsy.”
They went to the Cherry Tree pub on King William Street where Mr Smith was a regular.
The manager described him as “the most pleasant, nicest customer we have. He normally sits on his own not bothering anyone.” Even Crawshaw later accepted he looked like a “frail old man.”
In contrast the staff noticed Crawshaw and his friend were being “giddy” and were louder than others in the pub.
Mr Sharp said when police later saw him they believed Crawshaw was “under the influence of intoxicants.” He admitted he had taken an ecstasy tablet but said it was later in the night when he went to a club.
His counsel told the court he did not accept taking the Ecstasy earlier in the toilets at the pubic house on arrival.
After coming out of the toilet area Crawshaw and Holland played on the fruit machines for a while before Crawshaw then noticed Mr Smith and they sat down beside him and he began to talk to him according to his friend “in drunken gibberish.”
He told him he looked intelligent and was asking him maths questions.
“Mr Smith put up with this for a few minutes before making his excuses. He said he had a bus to catch and got up.”
He then moved to another seating area where Crawshaw “decided to have some sport” with him later accepting he wanted “to wind him up.”
“Under the guise of concern about him not catching his bus he pursued him, first around the pub and then in the street.”
CCTV showed him first following the pensioner to his new seat asking why he had not caught the bus and then following him outside when Mr Smith apparently chose to walk away for a short period.
A few minutes later the pensioner returned to the pub and hesitantly went to the bar but Crawshaw then ran back into the pub “to accost him.”
Mr Smith was upset and unhappy and was heard to say “Leave me alone, get away from me.” But Crawshaw continued to follow him around and even barred his way to the exit before he and Mr Holland ran out towards McDonalds.
Mr Sharp said unfortunately Mr Smith also then left crossing John William Street where unluckily for him he was seen again by the defendant.
Spotting him across the street “he went after him with a sudden burst of speed” and pursued him across the market place pretending concern and aggressively asking if he wanted a taxi.
His friend was telling Crawshaw to calm down but to no effect. Mr Smith was telling him to”f..k off, just leave me alone.”
“Eventually Mr Smith had enough of the goading and lunged at the defendant catching his upper lip.”
He then walked away but Crawshaw “despite the age difference between them decided that he was going to retaliate.”
Mr Sharp said his words to Mr Holland a short time later was: “He’s hit me. I’ve had to have him.”
He followed Mr Smith down New Street, catching up and passing him and then barred his way. The pensioner tried to move on but Crawshaw remained in front of him and then punched him in the face with sufficient force to propel him backwards so his head hit the pavement hard.
He then ran back the way he had come leaving Mr Smith lying injured. He had suffered a severe fracture to the skull and extensive bleeding on the brain. Although he was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary his injuries proved fatal.
Crawshaw was later to claim he ran from the scene because he “panicked” and was scared but one witness described him laughing with his friend before they slowed to a walk “and then unconcernedly continuing their evening.”
He chatted to some girls and went to other pubs, a strip club and a casino before taking a cab home. Mr Holland had stayed out and was arrested by police at 4.45am when he told them who was responsible for the assault. They went to Crawshaw’s home in Halifax and arrested him.
He said he did not think he had hit Mr Smith hard and expressed remorse.
Frida Hussain representing Crawshaw said he accepted Mr Smith must have felt tormented by his behaviour earlier in the public house and could not really explain his actions, which were entirely out of character, other than the drink he had consumed.
There was then a chance encounter later in the street and when Mr Smith finally had enough and lunged at Crawshaw he reacted in a way that was “unacceptable.”
“He describes hitting Mr Smith as the worst decision of his life.”
She said when Crawshaw ran off he had no “appreciation of the devastation he had caused.” He had never been in trouble with the police before or acted in such a way.
Jailing Crawshaw, Judge Tom Bayliss QC said he accepted the harm suffered by Mr Smith was not something he had foreseen or intended and the incident was out of character but it was “entirely provoked by your behaviour.”
He said it was Crawshaw who was “annoying and picking on him” in the public house and would not leave him alone, then again when he saw him in the street he was taunting him again.
“Throughout he was trying to avoid a confrontation with you.”
The judge said rejected any suggestion that Mr Smith had in any way provoked Crawshaw, when he finally lashed out because of what was happening “he was no physical threat to you at all.”
Having decided to follow him and retaliate he left Mr Smith injured on the ground. “CCTV shows your behaviour, you did not show remorse you carried on your evening going to a club and taking Ecstasy.”
Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “This was a tragic incident in which a mindless alcohol-fuelled moment of violence has resulted in the senseless waste of a life. After the assault, Crawshaw ran from the scene, not seeking any medical assistance for his victim, who later died as a result of his injuries in hospital.
“This case demonstrates the very serious potential repercussions of throwing a single punch. Crawshaw now faces spending several years behind bars having committed an act which robbed Adrian Smith of his much-earned retirement.”