A TEENAGER has seen a murder charge reduced to grievous bodily harm after medical experts ruled his headbutt did not kill a Parkgate pensioner.
Retired antique dealer Alan Corney, 67, sustained a fractured cheek bone and developed a blood clot on the brain after being headbutted in front of his wife Norma in The Parade, Parkgate, on November 14.
Mr Corney was walking home from the pub at about 9pm with his wife when he challenged the behaviour of two teenagers who were drunkenly swearing.
He collapsed at home three weeks later and underwent brain surgery which left him in a coma until his death on February 6.
Police launched a murder investigation after the former plant manager at Unilever, Port Sunlight, died.
James Crawford, 18, of Claypit Lane, Gresford, was later arrested and first charged with murder, then manslaughter.
At Chester Crown Court on Monday, Crawford admitted butting Mr Corney, who had previously suffered two strokes and walked with a limp, saying it was in self-defence.
A neuropathologist and a Home Office pathologist have now agreed that the blow did not cause Mr Corney’s death.
Weeks before the incident Mr Corney had bought a house overlooking the marshes in Parkgate, after selling his Neston home to legendary Liverpool singer Gerry Marsden, and was looking forward to retirement.
At a Press conference launching the murder investigation in February, son Michael broke down as he described his father as a “proud man with strong moral and family values”.
He said: “We didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye. We didn’t have a final family Christmas together.”
Crawford was remanded in custody to return to the court for trial on July 28.