Fury of family of aspiring firefighter who was killed in 'unprovoked cowardly attack' at taxi rank

Duncan Browne Credit: Merseyside Police family handout

A man has been jailed for nine years and four months for the manslaughter of an aspiring firefighter who died following an attack at a taxi rank.

Michael McLoughlin, 36, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday for the manslaughter of Duncan Browne, 23, after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) accepted his guilty plea and decided not to proceed to a murder trial at an earlier hearing.

Co-defendant Terrence Kerwin, 34, was jailed for 10 months after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm for his part in the attack.

Speaking outside court, Mr Browne's grandfather John Browne, 72, said the family were unhappy with the decision to drop murder charges against both defendants.

Duncan Browne Credit: Merseyside Police family handout

Mr Browne, from Kirkby, Merseyside, had been in Liverpool city centre to watch England play in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 when he became separated from friends on their way home in the early hours of Sunday July 4.

John Benson QC, prosecuting, said the defendants, who had been drinking in the city centre with another man, arrived at a taxi rank on Hanover Street at about 3.30am.

The court heard one of the group said "get out of the way, lad" to Mr Browne as they attempted to board the one cab which was at the taxi rank.

Mr Benson said Kerwin, of no fixed abode, struck Mr Browne with an initial punch and McLoughlin then struck him twice, causing him to fall into the shutter of a shop front and collapse onto the floor.

After the attack, the pair got into the taxi and made their way to a party, while Mr Browne was treated by onlookers until paramedics arrived, the court heard.

Mr Browne was taken to hospital but died the following day.

Flowers at the scene of Duncan Browne's death Credit: Liverpool Echo

Sentencing, Judge David Aubrey said: "This was a wholly unprovoked and gratuitous assault in the city centre against a man who had not been abusive, he had not been confrontational and I am satisfied he had not offered any threat of violence whatsoever."

Michael McLoughlin, jailed for nine years and four months at Liverpool Crown Court for the manslaughter of Duncan Browne. Credit: Merseyside Police

The court heard McLoughlin had 16 previous convictions for 31 offences and had been on licence at the time of the attack after being imprisoned for conspiracy to steal in 2019.

In a statement which he read to the court, Mr Browne's grandfather said: "This unprovoked cowardly attack has robbed a kind, respectful, compassionate and dynamic young man, who was born three months premature and had to fight to cling on to life, of a lifetime of fulfilment in following his dream of serving his community as a member of the fire brigade."

Nigel Power QC, defending McLoughlin, said he had told police in interview: "All I can say is I'm sorry, deeply sorry."

In a letter written to the court, McLoughlin, of Torus Road, Liverpool, acknowledged his actions had caused "irreversible loss to many people".

Kerwin had 20 previous convictions for 44 offences, but none of them for violent offences.

Terrence Kerwin