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Neil Babbage
Neil Babbage's picture
When self defence ends and assault begins : new case concluded

The dead man started the fight, the man going to prison after initially defending himself went too far. He pled guilty so we will never know if a jury would have considered it within the law but it seems unlikely that they would have done. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-43351001

Anf's picture

A tragic case, without doubt.

But there's not enough detail in the news article to even begin to understand what happened.

The deceased man 'started the fight'. How? A gentle shove? A push? A frenzied attack with rapid kicks and punches? Was a weapon involved? We're there in preceeding threats? None of that is reported.

'The younger man got the upper hand'. What does that mean? Did the younger man apply some kind of restraint and takedown? Or did he hit him? If so, was it once or many times?

Then he kicked him in the head while he was lying on the ground. Was he unconscious on the ground? Was he conscious but yielding? Was he on the ground and about to get back up and straight back into the fight?

Unfortunately in this tragic case, there's just no way we can learn anything from this news article beyond what we hopefully all know already, which is that fighting is always, without exception, dangerous and stupid. Sometimes necessary, but always dangerous and stupid.

Neil Babbage
Neil Babbage's picture

Many of your questions / speculations are answered in other more detailed reports of the case. In summary, Jose (the dead man) started the violence with “at least one punch”. It continued with his wife “trying to pull him off”. He was then struck with “either a knee of a punch” and fell to the ground. Once there, he was kicked in the head and died later. There’s no information on whether Jose tried to get up or continue the fight at this point. The judge acknowledged that this started out as self defence: “Handing down sentence [the judge] accepted that while the defendant did not initiate the fight or go looking for trouble, he should have walked away when he gained the upper hand.” The sentence takes into account two aggravating factors including previous violence and drug dealing. It’s a fairly clear cut example of why that “finishing blow” at the end of drills needs to be practiced as a strike into the legs rather than the head...

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Thanks for sharing Neil! Case studies like this are always very useful. As you say, it does emphasise the need to condition escape as the aim, and to stay away from potentially fatal targets when someone is down.

A reminder that the time to think of law is in training so we can ensure the actions we make habitual are likey to prove effective at the time and not see us on the wrong side of the law after the fact.  

Thank you for sharing.

All the best,