11:18am Monday 20th February 2012
By Kelly Smale
A SIDCUP mother whose son was punched to death on a night out in Nottingham has branded his killer's “lenient” prison sentence a “slap in the face”.
Robert Holland, 36, died after being hit by former doorman and cage fighter Liam Rockley in the city centre at around 4am on October 28 last year.
A post-mortem examination concluded that Mr Holland died as a result of injuries sustained from a single punch to the head.
On Friday (February 17), Rockley, from Southwell, Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Nottingham Crown Court.
Judge John Milmo jailed the 21-year-old for three-and-a-half years.
Mr Holland’s mum Therese told News Shopper: "His lenient sentence is a total disgrace.
"We were told that if he hadn't handed himself in and pleaded guilty he would have got five to seven years.
"Three-and-a-half years is a slap in the face."
Rockley and Mr Holland had both been out drinking in separate parts of the city centre.
It wasn’t until Rockley saw Mr Holland and his friends involved in what he thought was an argument that the two met.
Despite being told by his friends "not to get into any trouble", Rockley approached the group and punched Mr Holland in the face.
Grandmother Mrs Holland, of Chester Road, has set up an online petition to increase the sentencing for 'one punch' manslaughter.
The 61-year-old said: "If that bloke had gone out and done armed robbery he would have got longer. He wouldn't have even had to kill someone. Monetary things are more important than people's lives. It's wrong.
"If I can do something to get the sentencing changed to help other parents get some justice then I'm prepared to do it."
She added: "We are not coping. My grandaughter is three-years-old and even now she says 'nanny I want to see Robert, nanny I want to talk to Robert'.
"She went into his bedroom and said 'Robert you are naughty, you left me'."
Mr Holland, who lived in Bexley, married wife Alev in Turkey 18 months before he died, after meeting her in 2009.
The former Westwood College student was self-employed as a lift engineer and was visiting Nottingham for business.
Mrs Holland, who also has a daughter Karen, said: "I cry every day. I'm absolutely distraught over this. My children are my life. I feel like half of my life has been taken away from me.
"Since Robert was five for the majority of their lives it's just been the three of us. We are extremely close. It's just the worst possible thing."
She added: "My grandson is 10 and at Christmas he said he didn't want any presents. He just wanted Robert back. The children absolutely worshipped him."
Following the sentencing, Mr Holland's family left pictures, roses and cards at the scene of his killing.
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Meynell, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: "Robert Holland’s death is a stark illustration of how a single punch can have such devastating consequences.
"Nottinghamshire Police very recently launched a campaign to highlight the damage that throwing a punch can cause. As has been proven here, it can ultimately cost a life.
"The medical evidence confirms also that it was the impact of the punch itself that killed Robert, and not the subsequent contact with the ground.
"Rockley had experience of cage fighting and clearly knew he was capable of delivering a blow that would cause his victim injury."
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