South Shields pub death man's injuries caused by 'kick or punch’

Pub attack victim Ronnie Howard
Pub attack victim Ronnie Howard

A man who was killed in an attack at a South Tyneside pub suffered a torn artery consistent with being punched, a court heard

Newcastle Crown Court heard dad-of-two Ronnie Howard died after he was punched and kicked by Michael Wilson for "no readily apparent reason" during a night out at the Prince Edward pub, in Prince Edward Road, South Shields,on May 4.

The scene at The Prince Edward

The scene at The Prince Edward

Wilson, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields, has admitted manslaughter, but denies murder, and is being tried by a jury.

Home Office pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper told the court the 31-year-old victim died as a result of a "traumatic subarachnoid heammorrhage", which is bleeding on the surface of the brain.

The doctor told the court he initially examined Mr Howard's body looking for outward signs of injury.

He said: "The only one you could see externally was a tiny bruise on his left thumb. It was 3mm across, very, very tiny. Nothing else was visible externally."

Dr Cooper said he found two bruises under the skin on Mr Howard's chin and jaw and other internal bruising when he carried out further examination.

The doctor added: "He had extensive bleeding onto the surface of the brain, called subarachnoid heammorrhage."

The court heard the bleeding was caused by a tear in an artery deep inside the neck.

Dr Cooper said the damage to the artery would usually result from a "violent movement" of the head and that Mr Howard's body showed no signs of a natural cause.

The doctor said: "The head twists and turns violently and the vessel gets stretched as the head turns and at that point it tears.

"A typical cause is a blow around the angle of the jaw, usually followed by instantaneous or rapid collapse. "

Dr Cooper said Mr Howard had a bruise at the location around his jaw where it would be "typical" for such an injury to be caused.

He told the court: "The most usual explanation would be a punch but it is conceivable it was a kick, for example."

The court heard Mr Howard remained on the pub floor, in the doorway, as a brawl broke out after he was attacked and could have been injured by the door moving or by a kick from someone other than Wilson as he lay there.

But the doctor told jurors: "The overwhelming likelihood is a punch to the left side of the face."

Wilson denies murder.

The trial continues.