A cocaine fuelled thug celebrating a friend’s birthday killed an innocent grandad after his group had been thrown out of the Printworks. Callum Crosbie killed 60-year-old bricklayer Kevin Wood with a single punch.
Crosbie, 23, had travelled to Manchester with a group of about 10 friends from their homes in Newcastle, while Mr Wood was out with his wife celebrating her birthday. The strangers met on Dantzic Street outside the Printworks in Manchester city centre, when Crosbie and others had been ejected from the popular nightspot.
They had refused to leave a table in O’Neill’s pub, which was being removed to make space for a dancefloor for the evening. After they had been escorted onto Dantzic Street, Mr Wood, from Middleton, walked along with his wife Debbie where an ugly fracas broke out.
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The couple had been drinking and enjoyed a meal to mark her birthday. As Mr Wood walked by he pointed at the security guards and said he believed they were were ‘out of order’, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Shortly after, Crosbie punched Mr Wood. The court heard it was likely a case of mistaken identity, and that Crosbie had actually meant to hit a bouncer.
“Mr Wood was not even looking at Mr Crosbie when the punch was thrown,” prosecutor Rob Hall said. Mr Wood, described as a loving, hard working and loyal father and grandfather, was declared dead about an hour later, having suffered a traumatic brain injury.
His loving wife was by his side as he lay dying on the street, following the tragic incident at about 8pm on Saturday, November 20 last year. Now Crosbie, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, has been jailed for seven years.
Alan Foster, who turned 40 that day, and Kevin Docherty, 41, admitted affray for their part in the ugly fracas with door staff, on a busy Saturday night in the lead up to Christmas.
“Some children had to be screened from the violence by their parents,” Judge Anthony Cross QC said.
Foster and Docherty were both locked up for four months.
“One stupid act has taken away so much from my whole family,” Mr Wood’s daughter Chloe Rourke said. “It seems so unfair and unjust that Callum will one day be free to live his life, while our family has to live without my dad in ours.”
Mrs Wood said she is ‘tormented’ by their decision to go out in Manchester that night. She said: “Why did I not just stay local or go for a curry? Kev would still be with me.”
Prosecutors told how Crosbie, a plasterer, had already ‘lost his temper’ earlier that evening. He’d been involved in a row with his girlfriend and been hit by a member of the public after being apparently refused entry to a bar. The judge said he was ‘plainly looking for trouble’.
The group from Newcastle had later found a table at O’Neill’s in the Printworks. The table was reserved from 8pm, as it was due to be removed to make space for a dancefloor.
After being politely asked to leave the table, Crosbie told staff to ‘f*** off’. Security staff from the pub were asked to eject the group, and later called on support from Printworks bouncers after the group continued to refuse to comply.
An ugly fracas broke out after the group had been escorted onto Dantzic Street, with bouncers erecting a wall of door staff to block entry. Docherty exchanged punches with a security guard and Foster took his watch off before punching a doorman.
Crosbie tried to ‘wind up’ the security staff and aggressively said ‘come on then’. Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Wood were making their way along Dantzic Street, enjoying their night out having caused ‘no harm or trouble to anyone’.
As he moved past, Mr Wood pointed at the security guards and said he thought they were ‘out of order’. Most doormen were wearing hi-vis jackets, but some had dark plain clothes on.
“It seems that Mr Crosbie may have mistook Mr Wood for a security guard,” Mr Hall said. Crosbie punched Mr Wood with ‘full force’ to the jaw, causing him to fall to the ground.
At 9.05pm, about an hour later, Mr Wood was declared dead. Crosbie did not go to help Mr Wood or check on his condition. He was chased by security guards then arrested shortly after.
“It is quite clear he was not the slightest bit concerned with who he attacked,” Judge Anthony Cross QC said. “Not once did he look in the direction of the dying man.
“Not for one second while others tried to help, did he do the same. He remained violent to the last.”
In a blood test hours later, Crosbie had traces of cocaine and cannabis as well as alcohol in his system. Mr Wood’s family have been left devastated and traumatised by their loss.
“He would never hurt anyone,” Ms Rourke said of her father. “He loved and took care of my mum more than anyone could have.”
Earlier that day, Mr Wood had been carrying out renovations at their home which they planned to sell, hoping to downsize. They usually travelled abroad to celebrate Mrs Wood’s birthday, but decided to stay at home and go out for a meal.
“I have lost the best part of my life, my soulmate,” Mrs Wood, 61, said. “I have so many questions about his killer, but they will probably never be answered.
“What choices did Callum Crosbie make that night? Was he looking for a fight? Was he angry about something? Did he see my Kev as an easy target?
“I believe you know what type of person you are and what you are capable of in drink.”
She added: “None of it makes any sense at to me. This is something that happens to other people that you see on the news.
“I relive that night over and over. I couldn’t believe he had gone. He looked like he was going to get up. I even asked a bouncer to help me get him up.”
Speaking of Crosbie, she added: “He took my husband, my future away. He has turned my world upside down and I can see no end to my grief, ever.”
Addressing Crosbie, Ms Rourke said: “Can you imagine being taken into a police car to be told your dad is not going to make it? We hope Callum Crosbie and the people he was out with that night have learned from their actions and the choices they made.
“We hope no other family has to endure the devastation and pain you have inflicted upon us. I know Callum Crosbie will never hurt like I do. But I hope he is sorry for his actions and will tell others of the dangers of punching someone.”
Defence barristers claimed that security staff had been ‘heavy handed’ which had ‘enflamed’ the situation. Jonathan Turner, for Crosbie, said his behaviour was ‘out of character’.
“He was a plasterer, he did little but work,” Mr Turner said. “He didn’t go out every weekend causing a nuisance of himself.”
Mr Turner said the death of Crosbie’s father has ‘increased his empathy’ to Mr Wood’s family. Judge Cross said he accepted that Crosbie, who had no previous convictions, was genuinely remorseful.
Defending Foster, a self employed dry liner, Robert Turton said the father-of-four, who has previous convictions but has never been sent to jail, is usually ‘mild mannered’ and ‘polite’.
Gavin Doig, defending dad-of-two Docherty, who had no previous convictions, said there was an element of ‘provocation’, as Docherty had been knocked over and hit more than once before he was violent.
Foster and Docherty’s lawyers both appealed for the pair to be spared jail, noting that their families would be affected as they rely on them to pay their mortgages. The pair will serve half of their sentences in jail, while Crosbie will serve two-thirds in prison.
Crosbie, of Colebridge Court, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Docherty, of Kyloe Villas, Newcastle, and Foster, of Kyloe Place, Newcastle, admitted affray.
After the hearing, Detective Inspector Mark Davis from GMP’s Major Incident Team said: “This was an absolutely tragic incident that has left a family absolutely devastated because one fatal punch by Crosbie and our thoughts remain with Debbie and Kevin’s family who are still coming to terms with what happened that night every single day. The security staff were simply doing their job and Kevin was a passer-by who lost his life in the most devastating way that night. This is a reminder that one simple punch can result in someone getting killed and I would urge everyone to really think twice.
“You never know what’s going to happen and Kevin is just one of many victims over the years who have sadly died as a result. Crosbie now time behind bars, away from his own family, to think about his actions and no doubt regret them every single day. He’s left not only Kevin’s family heartbroken and at a loss, but no doubt his own too.”
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