Upper Sapey murder trial latest: Jury considers its verdict

First published in Ludlow

A JURY is deliberating whether to find a firefighter guilty of murdering a man during a fight near Tenbury Wells.

Jason Halling, 29, stands accused of killing Kevin Smith, 47, during a fight at Sapey Golf Club in Upper Sapey during the early hours of New Years Day last year.

The pair were guests at a wedding party celebrating the marriage of Mr Smith’s nephew to Halling’s sister.

During the past week the jury at Worcester Crown Court has heard from partygoer Jack Loris who said he saw Halling punch Mr Smith’s ‘top half’ more than 10 times as the victim lay on the ground.

Another guest, Luke Crisp, said Halling, of Firs Orchard, Bromyard, picked up a wooden chair and threw it at Mr Smith as other guests tried to restrain him.

Mr Smith, who also lived in Bromyard, died of a brain injury two days later.

Daniel Guiver, Halling’s brother-in-law, received a picture message just hours after the balcony attack showing the defendant posing for a picture while sporting bandages covering his injured knuckles.

It was accompanied by the message “Why do they start?”.

Mr Smith’s partner, Laura Davies, said she rushed to the balcony.

“When I reached him he was completely out of it; out cold,” she said.

Moments earlier, the court heard, she had walked off after being shocked that her partner came out with an unpleasant comment about Halling.

“It came out of the blue. There had never been any problems between the two,” she said.

Giving evidence, Halling said Mr Smith grabbed him round the neck. He said there was no build-up to the violence, adding he thought his intention was to strangle him or land a punch.

“The instant thing is to defend yourself,” he said.

“I probably hit him twice. He just fell onto the balcony. I feel sick thinking about it; shocked, disgusted, terrible.

“I felt trapped. I probably hit him as hard as I could. I was only ever defending myself.”

He said he sent the phone photo because he was “looking for answers”.

Halling’s friend Brian Prosser said he was headbutted by Mr Smith six months earlier in a Bromyard pub.

Pathologist Dr Alexander Kolar, who carried out Mr Smith’s post-mortem, found more than 20 injuries.

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