THE jury in the trial of three Northwich men accused of kicking grandad Jock Straiton to death outside his home retired to consider its verdict yesterday.
Mr Straiton, a 59-year-old part-time taxi driver, was brutally assaulted on Park Road, Winnington, in the early hours of Saturday, July 26, after confronting a rowdy group outside Sandybank Flats.
He died two weeks later and Paul Blower, Nigel Goolding and Joshua Spruce, all aged 20, have been on trial for his murder since February 24.
Goolding, of Cromwell Road, and Spruce, of Alderley Road, both claim self-defence. Blower, of Chapel Street, Wincham, maintains he ‘never touched’ Mr Straiton.
At Chester Crown Court on Friday, Judge Roderick Evans began his summing up, explaining to the jury: “The prosecution say Mr Straiton was kicked to death by these three defendants. The fatal attack had its origins in the confrontation that had taken place before.
“The people involved were Joshua Spruce and Paul Blower, both of whom, the prosecution say, had been issuing threats to Mr Straiton, who had been invited out to fight when all he wanted to do was get some peace and quiet.”
Judge Evans said it was the prosecution’s assertion Goolding was not involved in the row which preceded Mr Straiton coming out of his flat armed with a hammer to confront the group.
But when the altercation ensued, ‘he must have been aware trouble was brewing’.
Judge Evans said even if violence was ‘a reasonable response’ to the threat of father-of-two Mr Straiton wielding the hammer, ‘the violence used went far beyond what could possibly be called self-defence’.
The prosecution says Spruce and Goolding were involved in the initial assault on Mr Straiton and that Blower was the attacker spotted by witness Philip Howarth emerging from the shadows and jumping on Mr Straiton’s head as he lay semi-conscious on the ground.
The three defendants had earlier been at a 40th birthday party at Winnington Rec.
Judge Evans said the ‘inevitable’ noise made by ‘people who had drunk far more than was good for them’ was the catalyst for the fateful scenes.