Man jailed for nine years after killing stranger with a single punch

Darren Fell, 40, punched Wayne Sheppard on a street in Devizes. Credit: Wiltshire Police

A man who killed a stranger with a single punch has been jailed for nine years.

Darren Fell, 40, punched Wayne Sheppard on a street in Devizes, Wiltshire, on 2 July.

CCTV footage showed that Mr Sheppard was hit by Fell after a short verbal exchange between them.

He hit his head on the concrete floor as he fell and suffered a catastrophic brain injury.

The 44-year-old was rushed to Swindon Great Western Hospital, but never regained consciousness. He died in hospital six days later.

Wayne Sheppard died after he was punched and fell to the ground. Credit: Gloucestershire Police

In a tribute released at the time of his death, Mr Sheppard's family described him as a "happy-go-lucky man who had a kind nature".

Fell was initially charged with causing grievous bodily harm, but upon Mr Sheppard's death was later charged with manslaughter.

While admitting he had punched Mr Sheppard, Fell claimed he felt threatened and was acting in self-defence.

This was rejected by the jury after prosecutors pieced together CCTV footage and presented evidence from witnesses which proved the victim showed no hostility prior to the assault.

Fell was found guilty of manslaughter following a trial at Winchester Crown Court earlier this year.

He appeared at Wiltshire Crown Court for sentencing on 6 October, and was jailed for nine years.

In a victim impact statement provided to the court, Mr Sheppard's parents said: "No parent wants to bury their child. I never thought that we would lose our son.

"We miss him every day and life has not been the same since he was assaulted. The hardest five days of our life were sitting by Wayne's bedside knowing that he was not going to survive his injuries".

Phil Walker, Detective Chief Inspector of Wiltshire Police said: "This incident was a huge shock to the local close-knit community of Devizes, of which Wayne was a popular member. He was a well-liked and well-known man and I know news of his death was extremely upsetting for all who knew him.

"This incident demonstrates that one punch can kill and I would urge people to think twice before resorting to violence. One punch can have devastating consequences as has sadly been demonstrated in this case," he added.