Loved ones of Ronnie Howard remember South Shields dad three years after his murder in pub attack

Scores of flowers have been left outside South Shields pub The Derby, formerly the Prince Edward, at The Nook, in memory of Ronnie Howard.
Scores of flowers have been left outside South Shields pub The Derby, formerly the Prince Edward, at The Nook, in memory of Ronnie Howard.

The family and friends of a much-loved dad have today laid flowers outside the pub where he lost his life in a punch attack three years ago.

Ronnie Howard died after he was hit and kicked while on an evening out at what was then The Prince pub in Prince Edward Road, South Shields, on the night of May 4.

Ronnie Howard, who died three years ago after he was punched in the head while on a night out.

Ronnie Howard, who died three years ago after he was punched in the head while on a night out.

The 31-year-old dad-of-two died within minutes, of not seconds, after he was punched twice in the head, causing a bleed on the brain.

His killer went on to kick him as he lay on the floor.

His shock death left his relatives and pals devastated, with their tributes continuing today as they laid flowers outside the pub on the anniversary of their loss.

Read more: Murder victim remembered a year after his death with tributes outside pub

Police outside the pub in the aftermath of Ronnie Howard's death, with a huge amount of flowers later left as the community paid its respects to the father-of-two.

Police outside the pub in the aftermath of Ronnie Howard's death, with a huge amount of flowers later left as the community paid its respects to the father-of-two.

In addition to bouquets, floral displays spelling out 'Dad' and 'Big Ron.' have also been put on show, alongside a banner showing Ronnie's photo, the words 'In loving memory Big Ron' and the Newcastle United crest.

People were been invited to wear football tops to the funeral of the devoted Newcastle fan.

Toyah Charlton, is the partner of Ronnie's cousin Jack Carson, 27, and also grew up alongside Ronnie, as their grandparents were neighbours in Marsden.

She said Ronnie's family, including parents Lezlie and Gerry, both 59, his sisters Sonia and Cindi and Ronnie's own sons Ronnie and Bobby, feel it is important to mark the day.

Toyah said: "Every year we go down at 10am and put down flowers outside the pub.

"It's to keep his memory alive and to make sure he's not forgotten.

"It's a really close family anyway, his mam and dad and children and everyone else, and this is really important.

"We have so many great memories of him and we can't believe it's been another year.

"He was a real gentle giant, he was also a big lad, a proper family mam, and he was his mam and dad's only son, they idolised him.

"We always get together for the day, put down the flowers and then stay together, the children and the adults, and then we have a few drinks for him later on once it's just the grown ups.

"All the flowers will be brought into his mam and dad's back garden, where they have a chair with a plaque on it for him, and so they have the flowers for as long as they can."

The Howards also gather to mark Ronnie's birthday, in November, in recognition of their loss.

The family has backed the One Punch UK charity, which raises awareness of the devastation a single-strike attack can cause.

It was set up by Whitburn woman Maxine Thompson-Curl after her son Kristian Thompson died aged 19 when he was punched just once while on a night out.

Read more: Mum of one-punch tragedy teenager Kristian Thompson welcomes MP's call for tougher sentences

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck highlighted her work in Parliament last month.

Read more: Tragic case of Kristian Thompson raised in Parliament as South Shields MP calls for tougher sentences for one-punch killers

Toyah added: "The impact of just one punch can be so big and Ronnie's family, we really just want people to think.

"Ronnie is still in our hearts and we still think about him every day - we don't want this to happen to others."

Father-of-three Michael Anthony Wilson, then 36, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields, was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court in October 2016 after being convicted of murder.

He had admitted manslaughter of Ronnie, but the prosecution pushed on with the trial.

Wilson was told he must serve at least 16 years, with a Court of Appeal judge later telling him he must serve 15 years and eight months before he can apply for parole after he mounted a bid to have his term reduced.

Related: South Tyneside thug fails in bid to get murder conviction quashed

Newcastle Crown Court had heard his attack was launched after Wilson had been drinking during the day and into the evening, with the beating part of a "ferocious" brawl that broke out in the bar.

Read more: Ronnie Howard murderer given life for brutal South Shields pub beating