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Not guilty verdict in teen manslaughter trial

Not guilty verdict in teen manslaughter trial

Friday 02 February 2024

Not guilty verdict in teen manslaughter trial

Friday 02 February 2024

A Jersey teenager has been found not guilty of manslaughter after punching a 62-year-old cyclist, who suffered a bleed to the brain and later died of his injuries.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named due to his age, was cleared by jurors by a majority verdict yesterday afternoon after over six hours of deliberation.

During the Royal Court trial, the jury was told that the teenager punched Roy Bester during an altercation in St Helier.

Mr Bester had visited a corner shop and was cycling away when he got into an argument with the defendant.

The 62-year-old threw the first punch, before the defendant punched him in the face – with Crown Advocate Lauren Hallam, prosecuting, arguing that the force used was not reasonable.

The punch caused multiple facial fractures and a bleed to the brain, which eventually killed Mr Bester.

Advocate Hallam said "there is no dispute that this punch caused serious injury" and that "these serious injuries ultimately led to Mr Bester's death". 

In a statement describing the incident, the teenager said: “There was a cyclist in front of me. He was travelling incredibly slowly on his bike.

“I gave him a honk. He did not appear to hear this so I honked again.”

He said Mr Bester gave him the middle finger and said something. Though the defendant could not hear clearly, he said “it sounded aggressive”.

The defendant said he then got out of the car and Mr Bester asked if he wanted to fight.

“I repeatedly asked him to move away from me,” the teenager said.

“He grabbed my arm as if he wanted to grab hold of me.

“I was scared of him and scared of the situation and what could happen.”

The defendant then described how Mr Bester punched him in the face and asked him if he thought he could take him on in a fight.

“He continued to walk towards me and he was right in my face again,” the youth said.

The defendant described punching Mr Bester and seeing him fall to the ground.

PC Cherry Brough, who attended after a 999 call, said that although Mr Bester said he was fine, she recognised his vomiting as a potential symptom of a brain injury.

She said: “His face was quite bloodied. It seemed to me that blood was coming from his nose. He also had abrasions to his forehead.”

Paramedics who attended the scene described how Mr Bester seemed drunk. However, forensic pathologist Dr Amanda Jeffery said that signs of a brain injury can make a person seem drunk.

Advocate James Bell, defending, told the court that the teenager had acted out of self-defence and that he was scared of Mr Bester.

He told the jury: "This is a tragic case for everyone involved.

"In anyone's view, this young man did not intend the outcome and must come to terms with what happened and suffer the consequences of what happened, whatever your verdict is today.

"Although this has been a relatively short trial... it is a very important one for [the defendant], still aged 17.

"The allegation put against him by the prosecution is a serious one. It has already changed the course of his life.

He explained how everyone has the right to self-defence – and that this involves making quick decisions in moments of anguish.

The Deputy Bailiff, Robert MacRae, was presiding.

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