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.”