Pub doorman guilty of manslaughter after killing Dunstable Town fan with one punch

Aaron Bateman, 28, of Luton Road, Dunstable, was killed outside a pub.
Aaron Bateman's family described him as a kind and gentle soul. Credit: Family picture

A doorman has been convicted of the manslaughter of a football supporter outside a pub after punching him in the face. Wilfred Fantie, 44, hit Aaron Bateman on the pavement outside the Wheatsheaf Pub in Dunstable.

The 28-year-old Dunstable Town fan hit his head as he fell and was taken to hospital, but died two days later.

Fantie, previously of Henley Road in Bedford and now of Somerset House, Leafield, Luton, denied manslaughter, claiming he was acting in self defence and had been racially abused.

But a jury at Luton crown found him guilty and he will be sentenced on 15 March.

At the time of his death Mr Bateman's family paid tribute to him, saying: “Aaron was a kind and gentle soul who lit up every room with his humour and smile. Words cannot explain how greatly he will be missed."

Prosecutor Charles Ward-Jackson said that Mr Bateman and his father Ian went to watch Dunstable Town’s home game against Ardley United on 12 February last year.

After the game they went to the Wheatsheaf, where a live tribute band called The Lash was playing, said Mr Ward-Jackson.

Ian Bateman and a friend were dancing with their tops off and were asked to leave.

At the door there was pushing and shoving between Fantie and Mr Bateman senior, and a scuffle broke out.

The prosecutor said Aaron Bateman walked out of the pub and on to the pavement but Fantie went after him and struck him.

Mr Ward-Jackson said: “The power of the blow was such that he fell to the ground without being able to break his fall. Some witnesses heard the crack of his head on the pavement."

Aaron Bateman was taken to accident and emergency at the Luton and Dunstable hospital, bleeding from his left ear.

He died two days later from a traumatic brain injury.

Det Insp Mark Butler, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “This is a very sad incident with devastating outcomes for the families of both Mr Bateman and the defendant, who now faces time behind bars.

“There can never be an excuse for violence and this case is a terrible reminder of the potential consequences. One decision can result in an unimaginable tragedy."

When the doorman was arrested, he told police the Batemans had caused trouble on earlier occasions and that he had been racially abused.

Fantie said on the night of the fight Aaron Bateman had punched him the face and spat at him, while his father had used racial language.He told the court he had punched Aaron Bateman in self-defence.

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