‘I never meant to kill Ronnie’ – murder accused tells court he is ‘devastated' by pub fight death

The scene at the Prince Edward after Mr Howard's death
The scene at the Prince Edward after Mr Howard's death

A man on trial for murder told a court he was 'devastated' when he found out a man he had punched in a pub attack had died.

Michael Wilson has admitted the manslaughter of Ronnie Howard, 31, during a night out at the Prince Edward pub, South Shields on May 4, but told jurors "never for one second when I hit him did I expect to cause him serious injury".

Ronnie Howard who died after being assaulted in the Prince Edward pub

Ronnie Howard who died after being assaulted in the Prince Edward pub

The 35-year-old married father of three, who is on trial for Mr Howard's murder at Newcastle Crown Court, added: "I never intended to hurt Ronnie.

"I never intended to kill Ronnie."

The court has heard the two men, who were known to each other, had been at the pub with their separate groups of friends.

Wilson, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields, claimed he lashed out at Mr Howard - with two punches followed by a kick that may not have connected - because he believed there was about to be a fight and thought he would be "sticking up for" his friends.

He told the court: "I didn't want him to hit my friends so I hit him first."

He admitted he "carried on fighting" when a brawl broke out after he threw the punches at Mr Howard

But he added: "I didn't intend anything bad to happen. I never thought the outcome would be him dying."

Wilson told jurors he tried to help his victim when he realised something was badly wrong.

He added: "I was sitting in the bar area after everything had calmed down. People had stopped fighting but someone said Ronnie wasn't moving on the floor.

"I went back and had a look and he was still lying on the floor. That's when I knew there was something wrong. He wasn't getting back up.

"I tried to help him, I pulled him onto his back and checked his pulse. He wasn't breathing.

"I tried to give him CPR. I was saying 'come on' and slapping his cheeks. He wasn't moving."

Wilson told jurors he had planned to have a "good time on the drink" that day and did not set out with an intention of causing trouble or hurting anyone.

He told jurors he went home after the trouble and found out the next morning that Mr Howard had died.

Defence barrister Nicholas Lumley QC asked Wilson how he felt when he heard about the death and he replied: "Devastated".

Wilson said the attack was "spur of the moment" and added: "I wish I had never done it."

Mr Howard died as a result of a "traumatic subarachnoid haemmorrhage" - bleeding on the surface of the brain.

Wilson denies murder.

The trial continues.