Liam Smith jailed for killing man after Diamond Jubilee barbecue

James Harris-Durkin was killed following a Diamond Jubilee celebration barbecue

James Harris-Durkin was killed following a Diamond Jubilee celebration barbecue

First published in Bromley by

A ST PAUL'S CRAY man has been jailed for three years for killing a father of three after a Diamond Jubilee barbecue.

Liam Smith, aged 26, formerly of Thorndon Close, originally told police the party had passed with “no incidents” and he had only learned of James Harris-Durkin’s death through Facebook the next morning.

And Smith’s partner, Leanne Turner, aged 26, also formerly of Thorndon Close, lied in her witness statement to protect him.

Smith was sentenced for manslaughter today (November 20) after pleading guilty at the Old Bailey last month.

Both he and Turner were also sentenced for perverting the course of justice after entering guilty pleas at the court last month.

Mr Harris-Durkin was found suffering with a head injury in Court Road, Orpington, at around 3am on June 5 and died at Kings College Hospital later that day.

The court heard how Mr Harris-Durkin got into a fight with Smith outside the house, both being intoxicated.

Prosecutor Mark Aldred said: “Smith told the deceased ‘Come on, you wanted me outside.’

“The first blow, aimed for the deceased’s head, caused him to slump and as he did so, Smith delivered another blow to the deceased’s neck.”

A post mortem examination revealed Mr Harris’s death was caused by bleeding in the brain, thought to be from the second blow.

The court head how in Smith’s original statement made on June 10, he said: “I said ‘Hi’ to James and said, ‘Do you remember me from primary school?’

“There were no incidents at the party, everyone was in a good mood. The next morning I got up and went on Facebook and it said RIP James.”

Both Smith and Turner were arrested the day after giving their original witness statements, after Smith’s brother told the truth in his account.

Turner did not see the fight but did run away from the scene with Smith, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.

While Smith was sentenced to three years in prison, Turner was given a six-month sentence suspended for two years.

She was also given 200 hours of unpaid work and required to take part in six sessions with specific activity requirements for education, training and employment.

Ronnie Manek, mitigating for Smith, told the court: “The psychologist’s report shows the defendant is prone to reacting quickly, taking offence and having paranoid tendencies. He was less inhibited with the alcohol.”

In mitigation for Turner, Melanie Krudy said: “The defendant says she feared she would be cut off from Smith’s family (if she did not support his false statement).

“The psychologist’s report does say she is socially inhibited and is very much a follower.”

Sentencing, Judge Peter Rook told Turner: “You say you were worried you would be disowned by his family, now of course, you know you made the wrong choice.

“Your remorse is clear, having a son yourself.

“In particular I take into account that you have a three-year-old son and having both parents in custody would be very difficult.”

Judge Rook told Smith: “It was your choice to engage in the fight. It was not just one blow, it was two blows although I accept they were in quick succession.

“In those seconds you deprived James, of only 21 years, of his most prized possession, his life.

“He was a much loved son. Three children are now left without a father.”

In a letter read to the court, Mr Harris-Durkin’s mother Penny Harris said: “My son James was a lovely boy who had so much to live for.

“I have been left with a hole in my life and my heart.

“We have missed the best years of James’s life but we are always grateful to have had the time with him.”

Comments (13)

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4:50pm Tue 20 Nov 12

lariej says...

This sentence is an absolute joke 3 years I really feel for the family who lost James
The justice system really needs looking at .....
This sentence is an absolute joke 3 years I really feel for the family who lost James The justice system really needs looking at ..... lariej
  • Score: 0

5:06pm Tue 20 Nov 12

Growup says...

So very very sad. Children are left without their dad, a mother without a son, and siblings without their brother- yet after 15 months this man will be released, and back on our streets!!! Inflicting injury to someone of that extend - then simply walking away and leaving them to die is inexcusable by all counts.... and covering up for someone who is capable of this is equally as disgusting - yet they receive a suspended sentence!!!!! I doubt this is the outcome that James family needed to try and ease their pain. R.I.P James
So very very sad. Children are left without their dad, a mother without a son, and siblings without their brother- yet after 15 months this man will be released, and back on our streets!!! Inflicting injury to someone of that extend - then simply walking away and leaving them to die is inexcusable by all counts.... and covering up for someone who is capable of this is equally as disgusting - yet they receive a suspended sentence!!!!! I doubt this is the outcome that James family needed to try and ease their pain. R.I.P James Growup
  • Score: 1

5:08pm Tue 20 Nov 12

GemGem88 says...

3 years?!!! Manslaughter and perverting the court of justice.
Not only did he assault James so badly that he lost his life he also left him there without getting help!
Disgusting... Rip James!
Greatly missed xxx
3 years?!!! Manslaughter and perverting the court of justice. Not only did he assault James so badly that he lost his life he also left him there without getting help! Disgusting... Rip James! Greatly missed xxx GemGem88
  • Score: 1

6:22pm Tue 20 Nov 12

2bobsworth says...

again the courts let the victim and his family down, you'd get a longer sentence for drivin without a licence and insurance!!!

i can imagine sittin there with his divvy girlfriend braggin about how he hit james,and her sitting there thinking he's great!!!

well im sure when he gets out,people will want to pay him a visit!!!
again the courts let the victim and his family down, you'd get a longer sentence for drivin without a licence and insurance!!! i can imagine sittin there with his divvy girlfriend braggin about how he hit james,and her sitting there thinking he's great!!! well im sure when he gets out,people will want to pay him a visit!!! 2bobsworth
  • Score: 1

8:01pm Tue 20 Nov 12

Marty1979 says...

3 years, so out in 18 months or even less
3 years, so out in 18 months or even less Marty1979
  • Score: 0

8:01pm Tue 20 Nov 12

Marty1979 says...

3 years, so out in 18 months or even less
3 years, so out in 18 months or even less Marty1979
  • Score: 0

8:56pm Tue 20 Nov 12

Bob Downondiss says...

There has to be lots more to this story.

Come on someone gives us the SP.
There has to be lots more to this story. Come on someone gives us the SP. Bob Downondiss
  • Score: 0

7:11am Wed 21 Nov 12

daisy_doo says...

After todays outcome this is not justice how can the judge say that killing a father with 3 kids is fit enough for just 3 years away from his own child he should be strung up! He will serve half that sentence minus what he has done already on remand so be released this time next year in which case they have both had a bloody result and are laughing thinking murder is easy to get away with like all the rest of the scum out there! Community service for lying its a joke the whole thing the family has suffered a great loss and now then r feeling more pain because of this result and 3 children that will never see their daddy again so so sad. This report from the psychologists is just a joke nothing can justify what these 2 people have done and what they have destroyed.
After todays outcome this is not justice how can the judge say that killing a father with 3 kids is fit enough for just 3 years away from his own child he should be strung up! He will serve half that sentence minus what he has done already on remand so be released this time next year in which case they have both had a bloody result and are laughing thinking murder is easy to get away with like all the rest of the scum out there! Community service for lying its a joke the whole thing the family has suffered a great loss and now then r feeling more pain because of this result and 3 children that will never see their daddy again so so sad. This report from the psychologists is just a joke nothing can justify what these 2 people have done and what they have destroyed. daisy_doo
  • Score: 1

7:14am Wed 21 Nov 12

daisy_doo says...

If this had gone to trail I'm sure the outcome would of been a lot different been found guilty of murder and got life as the report above said the second blow was what killed him so in which case smith delievered that so he murdered him! Disgusting outcome and hope that people catch up with the scum and get justice for themselves least they deserve
If this had gone to trail I'm sure the outcome would of been a lot different been found guilty of murder and got life as the report above said the second blow was what killed him so in which case smith delievered that so he murdered him! Disgusting outcome and hope that people catch up with the scum and get justice for themselves least they deserve daisy_doo
  • Score: 1

8:10am Wed 21 Nov 12

Slonik says...

Why is it that so many fights these days seem to end in serious injury or death? The escalation in anger and levels of violence we see routinely is quite frightening, with or without weapons, often triggered by relatively trivial matters. Sadly the consequences of this loss of control are often tragic, as in this case, with families and loved ones left to cope with the aftermath. I wish these people would just think a little about the possible consequences of their actions before blind rage takes over and chenges their lives forever...
Why is it that so many fights these days seem to end in serious injury or death? The escalation in anger and levels of violence we see routinely is quite frightening, with or without weapons, often triggered by relatively trivial matters. Sadly the consequences of this loss of control are often tragic, as in this case, with families and loved ones left to cope with the aftermath. I wish these people would just think a little about the possible consequences of their actions before blind rage takes over and chenges their lives forever... Slonik
  • Score: 1

9:32am Wed 21 Nov 12

andygino says...

3 years for a killing just beggars belief..

This must be a new low point in the justice system, and what kind of message does this send out to society.

If this trend continues, we will end up with just fixed penalty fines for manslaughter and maybe a community service for murder ?

This will mean people taking the law into the own hands, all because of this hopeless justice system.
3 years for a killing just beggars belief.. This must be a new low point in the justice system, and what kind of message does this send out to society. If this trend continues, we will end up with just fixed penalty fines for manslaughter and maybe a community service for murder ? This will mean people taking the law into the own hands, all because of this hopeless justice system. andygino
  • Score: 1

11:22am Wed 21 Nov 12

Lord Erastus Theobald Piggott says...

Why isn't there a picture of the murderer so we can all be on our guard when he comes out of prison in a couple of months' time?
Why isn't there a picture of the murderer so we can all be on our guard when he comes out of prison in a couple of months' time? Lord Erastus Theobald Piggott
  • Score: 1

5:34pm Wed 21 Nov 12

Growup says...

Lord Erastus Theobald Piggott wrote:
Why isn't there a picture of the murderer so we can all be on our guard when he comes out of prison in a couple of months' time?
Agree totally...... yet - they will be obviously be protected!!! Espeically the woman - she is a mum afterall.. and her children may suffer !! What about James's children. However, facebook is a wonderful invention ;)
[quote][p][bold]Lord Erastus Theobald Piggott[/bold] wrote: Why isn't there a picture of the murderer so we can all be on our guard when he comes out of prison in a couple of months' time?[/p][/quote]Agree totally...... yet - they will be obviously be protected!!! Espeically the woman - she is a mum afterall.. and her children may suffer !! What about James's children. However, facebook is a wonderful invention ;) Growup
  • Score: 1

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