Prison for Stansted Mountfitchet man who caused death of a father in act of 'gratuitous violence'

PUBLISHED: 11:27 31 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:01 01 June 2018

Kieren O'Rourke died on April 18. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Kieren O'Rourke died on April 18. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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A Stansted Mountfitchet man has been has been jailed for five years for manslaughter after pushing a father who later died as a result of his injuries.

Kieren O’Rourke, 42, from Thaxted, died on April 18 last year, after his family made the decision to remove his life support.

Mr O’Rourke was pushed by David-Lee Conlan, 31, outside the Boars Head pub in Dunmow High Street on April 8, a few days before his 42nd birthday.

Reading her victim impact statement at Chelmsford Crown Court on May 24, Mr O’Rourke’s mother said earlier that day, Mr O’Rourke had taken her to look at a house in Saffron Walden and paid tribute to a “family man” who enjoyed karate, motocross and played with his band.

After pushing Mr O’Rourke, Conlan, who had been drinking, also punched a man, who was trying to calm him down, leaving the victim with a broken nose and other injuries.

Conlan, of Childs Lane, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and actual bodily harm on May 3 at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said Conlan and his girlfriend, Annette Simpson, were arguing outside the Boar’s Head when Mr O’Rourke, who was waiting for a friend, saw them.

Witnesses said Conlan appeared to be bullying his girlfriend as they walked towards the Boars Head.

Mr Jackson said: “The only eye witness (to the altercation) was Miss Simpson. She reports she was trying to calm the defendant and described him as angry. She then saw Mr O’Rourke walking towards them. She knew Mr O’Rourke and Mr O’Rourke knew her.

“It is the prosecution’s case that Mr O’Rourke, seeing Miss Simpson, probably walked towards the two of them to find out what was going on. Miss Simpson’s evidence is that the defendant thought that Mr O’Rourke had laughed at them. The defendant said: “Have you got a problem?” She then saw the defendant push Mr O’Rourke, she believes with both his hands.”

One witness said Mr O’Rourke “fell like a tree”.

A nearby security guard said Conlan was leaning into Mr O’Rourke, who was showing no aggression in return. He described Conlan, as “pumped up, clenching his hands”.

Mr O’Rourke, described by his family as a loving father, son and brother, was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital but died of head injuries. Yvonne O’Rourke said she initially thought her son would recover, before his mobility and speech deteriorated.

The court heard that Conlan had 12 previous convictions. In mitigation, Richard Conley said the defendant expressed his “deepest regret and sympathies”.

He said: “The push was simply a way to create a space between himself and Mr O’Rourke. This was not a punch with the intention of causing harm.”

Mr Conley said Conlan’s last conviction was in 2009, resulting in anger management sessions which had “kept him out of trouble for the best part of 10 years”.

Sentencing, Judge Charles Gratwicke, told Conlan: “What is clear is that you, in drink and in anger, pushed him with both hands causing him to fall to the ground...he had done nothing to you.

“Whilst of course I accept that he had been drinking... there clearly must have been some degree of force by you.

“This was a piece of gratuitous violence meted out by you. Your then girlfriend described you on a scale of drunkenness as an eight to nine of out 10.

“You have kept out of trouble since 2009 and I bear that in mind. Your actions that night have had a devastating effect. Not only has Mr O’Rourke lost his life but those left behind have had their lives torn apart.”

Conlan was sentenced to five years imprisonment for manslaughter and 12 months for causing actual bodily harm, to run concurrently.

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