South Tyneside thug fails in bid to get murder conviction quashed

Police outside The Prince Edward pub after the disturbance in which Ronnie Howard died.
Police outside The Prince Edward pub after the disturbance in which Ronnie Howard died.

A drunken thug who killed a popular dad at a South Shields pub has failed to convince top judges that his murder conviction should be overturned.

Father-of-three Michael Anthony Wilson, 36, of Hylton Avenue, was caged for life at Newcastle Crown Court in October last year.

Ronnie Howard who died after a fight in the Prince Edward pub

Ronnie Howard who died after a fight in the Prince Edward pub

He was convicted of the murder of 31-year-old Ronnie Howard and admitted affray.

The judge ordered Wilson to serve at least 15 years and eight months in jail before he could even apply for parole.

Mr Howard went to the Prince Edward pub, which has since been renamed The Derby, on May 4 last year, Lord Justice Davis told London’s Appeal Court today.

“It would appear that most of those involved in what happened had been drinking quite astonishing amounts during the course of the day and evening,” he added.

There was no unfairness and we are satisfied, therefore, that this conviction is safe

Lord Justice Davis

Wilson ‘suddenly’ punched Mr Howard - who was a ‘very powerfully built man’ - twice in the head.

He fell to the floor unconscious and Wilson kicked him as he lay prone.

The prosecution case was that he threw the ‘full force’ punches while his victim was looking away and posing no threat to anyone.

He had done this to ‘take out’ Mr Howard before getting involved in a wider affray in the pub.

Wilson was willing to admit manslaughter but was convicted of murder by the jury.

Today his barrister, Nicholas Lumley QC, argued that the murder verdict was ‘unsafe’ and should be overturned.

The trial judge had misdirected the jury in relation to a note they had sent him, the QC claimed.

But, Lord Justice Davis, said: “There is no possibility of the jury having been wrongly misled by the direction the judge gave them.

“There was no error,” added the judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Stuart-Smith and Judge Clement Goldstone QC.

“There was no unfairness and we are satisfied, therefore, that this conviction is safe.

“The appeal against conviction fails.”

Wilson had previous convictions for possession of drugs with intent to supply and drunk and disorderly behaviour, the court heard.

But, Mr Lumley also argued that his minimum jail term was too tough.

Lord Justice Davis, however, ruled: “It perhaps was a sentence on the stern side but we cannot say that it was manifestly excessive.”