UPDATED 15:06* RYAN Cooper, the Isle Wight law student who killed Gunville father of ten Gary 'Jeff' Stacey during a night out in Newport last year, has been found guilty of manslaughter by a jury at Winchester Crown Court today (Wednesday).
During the two-week long trial, jurors heard how Cooper, a black belt in karate, punched Mr Stacey during an altercation in St James Street, in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year.
Cooper's punch was so hard that it fractured Mr Stacey's eye socket and caused him to fall back and hit the back of his head on the road, fracturing his skull and causing severe brain damage. He died at Southampton General Hospital the next day.
Cooper denied manslaughter, claiming the punch was in self-defence.
Breaking down in the witness box last week, at times barely able to speak, Cooper, 21, told jurors Mr Stacey had threatened to knock him out, something he did not mention during a police interview the day after the incident.
Prosecutor Andy Houston said: "You were far from defending yourself. It is you who was aggressive towards Mr Stacey and that is why his life is at an end."
Mr Houston said Cooper should have told police about Mr Stacey's threat to knock him out if he was claiming self defence.
"I suggest, Mr Cooper, that that is something you have made up. You have tried to cover up what you have done to make your story sound better," Mr Houston said.
Cooper had been out with friends at Yates bar in Newport on the night of the offence and was asked to leave by door staff because they thought he was too drunk. He had also intervened in two fights before he met Mr Stacey.
Cooper and three other friends had been walking home along St James' Street when Mr Stacey approached them.
Cooper told the court that a group of people further up the street were shouting and Mr Stacey thought it was them and complained.
* The 21 year old has been sentenced to six years in jail.
Ryan Cooper outside Winchester Crown Court. Picture courtesy of Southern Daily Echo.