One punch killer sentenced for the manslaughter of man who died during private hire car dispute 

A man has been jailed for causing the death of a stranger in Guildford who died in hospital days after suffering a single punch to the back of the head.

Jamie Smith, 24, from Elmbridge was attacked in Park Street at 2.20am on 12 October 2019.

Mr Smith sadly passed away in hospital on 16 October after several days in St George’s Hospital intensive care unit.

Barney Thomas Christopher Coyle, 23, of Frog Grove Lane, Guildford, was initially charged with causing grievous bodily harm, but following Mr Smith’s death was charged with manslaughter.

He pleaded guilty to this charge at Guildford Crown Court on 14 November, and was today (6 January) sentenced at the same court to 7 and a half years imprisonment.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mark Chapman said: “This was a tragic incident caused by the reckless and violent action of a man now facing time behind bars, one that has robbed a family of their much loved son.

“Mr Smith was waiting to get his pre-booked cab home following a night out in Guildford when a man he didn’t know and had never met before jumped into the taxi intending to take it.

“As he spoke to the driver to confirm it was actually his booking, Coyle got out of the car and attacked Mr Smith from behind with one punch to the back of the head. Coyle ran off from the scene but was arrested later that day.”

”The family of Mr Smith has asked us to release the following statement on their behalf.

“No sentence given today will ever compare to the life sentence of grief you have given us, Jamie’s family and friends. There are literally no words to describe how we will cope moving forward.

”They say time is a great healer, but we know we will never be the same again. We will never find joy like we did before. The world is a dark place of because of people like you.

“Until it is recognised in our British laws that what you did was murder, or you are sentenced accordingly for this type of violence, sadly it will never end.

“To have any type of appropriate deterrent we all need the sentence to reflect the outcome of the crime. As parents you have destroyed our lives and in our view you should be in prison for a full life sentence.”

Image credit: Sussex Police

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