Ryan Cooper, a University of Southampton student, has been sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter today.
A jury at Winchester Crown Court convicted Cooper, a 21 year-old Law Student at the University, who last year punched 49-year-old Gary Stacey causing fatal head injuries, for manslaughter. The incident occurred in Newport on the Isle of Wight in the early hours of the morning on 14 February 2016. Cooper denied the charge of manslaughter.
Cooper, from Newport on the Isle of Wight, had been on a night out with friends when he attacked Stacey on the street following a conversation between Stacey and one of Cooper’s friends. The court heard that Cooper had thrown two punches, of which the second, after the first had missed, according to case prosecutor Andy Houston, fractured Mr Stacey’s eye socket and forced him to fall and hit his head on the road which caused a skull fracture, severe brain damage and rendered him unconscious.
Cooper, who left the scene with Stacey unconscious, claimed that Stacey had been “verbally threatening” and that the attack was in self-defence but Mr Houston has said that Stacey posed no threat to him. Stacey, a father of ten, died the next day after being airlifted to Southampton General Hospital. The Jury heard a recording during the trial of the 999 call where Cooper handed himself in.
Cooper’s social media suggested that he had been drinking and taking drugs that evening and the Court heard that he had been removed from Yates’ pub for being too drunk.
Case prosecutor Andy Houston has said:
“Gary Stacey was a 49-year-old when he went out in Newport town centre. On that Saturday he had gone out into Newport and got drunk. He was around twice the drink drive limit and he was on his way home with food from a takeaway called Bite Size at around 4am in the morning. He had the misfortune to bump into this defendant in the street.”
Mr Justice Warby said Cooper had not acted in “lawful self-defence” and that the incident was “influenced by the effects of what was clearly excessive alcohol consumption”. Mr Justice Warby also said:
“I am sure you would take back those two seconds if only you could. But of course you can’t. The case is sadder for Gary Stacey and his family.”
Harriet Martin, a Southampton student who went to school with Cooper, has told the Wessex Scene in light of the verdict:
“I went to school with Ryan for a number of years and while we weren’t especially close, I always liked him. He is a warm, funny and bright person and I am sure that he never would have meant for this to happen.
“While the loss of a life is tragic, so is a genuine, misguided mistake that had such awful, unintended consequences and ruined an ambitious young man’s life. I feel Ryan has been made out to be a violent troublemaker by not only the prosecutor but also the media and this is not the Ryan I knew.”