Man found guilty of murdering Walsall FC fan Ryan Harvey in street fight in Blackpool

Ryan Harvey was 22 when he was murdered Credit: Lancashire Constabulary

A man has been found guilty of murdering a 22-year-old man "who lived and breathed football" during a street fight.

Paul Atherton assaulted "bubbly" Walsall FC fan Ryan Harvey on 25 June 2022.

Around 5:33pm, police were called to Central Drive in Blackpool, where they found Ryan with a serious head injury.

The 38-year-old was taken to Royal Preston Hospital but died three days later.

A post-mortem examination found that the cause of Ryan’s death was blunt head trauma.

Two days after his death, Paul Atherton, from Thornton, was charged with murder, assault, and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

Atherton pleaded not guilty to the charges, but CCTV evidence showed him assaulting Ryan and delivering fatal blows.

Paul Atherton was found guilty by a jury, and will be sentenced on 2 November Credit: Lancashire Constabulary

A jury at Preston Crown Court found him guilty of all charges and he will be sentenced on 2 November.

A second man, Thomas Heaney, was also charged with murder, but after admitting a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm the charge was dropped.

For the assault, the 32-year-old from Fleetwood has already been sentenced to 10 months as well as 30 months for an unrelated robbery charge.

After his death, his family said: "A family has lost their little boy due to an incident that happened on Saturday in Blackpool.

"Our little Ryan was a bubbly lad who would do anything for anyone.

"Ryan was a lifelong Walsall FC fan who lived and breathed football. We are absolutely heartbroken and would appreciate some privacy at this time to grieve for our loss."

In the weeks following his death, an online fundraiser raised more than £2,000 to cover Ryan's funeral costs.

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