AN AMATEUR boxer killed a father of two with a ‘devastating’ single punch outside a bar in Sheffield city centre, a court heard this week.
Bradley Hinkler, aged 20, was described by a witness as a ‘predator going out for another kill’ when he chased Thomas Gower and threw a right hook to the side of his face from behind, said the prosecution.
Minutes before, he had knocked out Thomas’s friend Richard Howard, who believed the boxer was responsible for injuring two of his pals in a brawl inside Alibi at the junction of Trippet Lane and Holly Street.
Hinkler, of Kilvington Road, Woodthorpe, is accused of murdering 26-year-old Thomas, who died in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital on Boxing Day last year, after the attack on December 18.
Nick Clarke QC, prosecuting, said: “Mr Gower never even saw the fatal blow coming. The defendant chased him down and attacked him from the rear in a cowardly way.”
Thomas and Richard were at Alibi with friends Barry Smith and Mark Cullen when Hinkler arrived with his friend Reagan Denton.
Hinkler trained almost daily at the Steel City Gym in Heeley and was a ‘fit and active’ boxer, said Mr Clarke. “Although only a medium build, he packs a powerful punch.”
When fighting broke out on the dance floor, Hinkler joined in. “As a result of the disturbance Barry and Mark were both injured. Thomas and Richard couldn’t have been involved – they were in a different area of the bar some distance away. The defendant and Mr Denton then went towards the exit.”
Barry, Mark and Richard were associated with a group called the Blades Business Crew, or BBC – a gang of football hooligans associated with Sheffield United – Mr Clarke said. “As a group they would have refused to cower in the face of the assault.”
Thomas and his friends left the bar and encountered Hinkler outside. Mark and Richard were “verbally aggressive” before Hinkler punched Richard in the face, knocking him off his feet. He remained unconscious for several minutes.
The court heard Hinkler said: “Don’t mess with me” after landing the blow.
“Thomas held out his hands saying ‘I ain’t involved in this’. He then turned and ran and the defendant chased him,” added Mr Clarke. “He caught up with Thomas who was still running away. He then dealt a right hook. Witnesses described the blow as devastating. His victim appeared unconscious before he hit the floor.”
Thomas suffered a fractured eye socket, a broken jaw, skull fractures and brain swelling. Hinkler was arrested on December 22 for assault but was later charged with murder.
He initially claimed to be elsewhere, then said later he acted in self-defence because Richard was holding a bottle and he believed Thomas was going to get a knife.
Hinkler denies assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and murder.
The trial continues.