The devastated family of a man who died from a brain haemorrhage following a fall on a night out fear he has not received the “justice” he deserves.
Stephen Butt, 50, died on August 18 last year, after suffering a fall and being assaulted on an night out in Blackpool, an inquest heard.
But despite an in-depth police investigation, three people arrested in connection with his death were released without charge, when it was discovered it would be impossible to tell which trauma caused Mr Butt’s death.
Paul Butt, 45, Stephen’s heartbroken brother, said: “Stephen’s had no justice, the system has let him down and it’s let us down.
“Although the police did everything they could, their hands, we feel, were tied.”
The inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court heard Mr Butt had been out in Blackpool on August 17, with his partner Julianna John, her son Richard Jones and his girlfriend Natalie Brown, before falling from a taxi and sustaining head injuries.
Taxi driver Martin Wyatt, who took Mr Butt home, witnessed the incident and told police he also saw Mr Jones assault him, the inquest heard. Mr Wyatt told the inquest he saw Mr Butt go down “like a sack of spuds” after he had been punched.
A statement made by Mr Jones to police was read during the inquest. It said: “I was defending myself. I didn’t for one moment think I’d caused him serious injury.”
Coroner Simon Jones recorded a narrative verdict.
The court heard that at 5.45am on August 18 paramedics were called to Mr Butt’s home on Park Lane, Preesall, after he had collapsed. He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, but died at 7.25am.
The court was told that, over August 21 and 22, Mr Butt’s parents, Tony and Sylvia, then overheard a conversation between Ms John, Mr Jones and Ms Brown.
Det Supt Andy Murphy, who led the inquiry, told the inquest that Ms John was heard to say: “‘He’s murdered the love of my life, he’s my son but I won’t grass him.’”
Det Supt Murphy added: “It’s quite clear they were discussing the death of Stephen.”
As a result a police investigation was launched, with Ms John and Ms Brown arrested, and an arrest warrant issued for Mr Jones on suspicion of murder, and 20 detectives put on the case.
But after questioning the trio and obtaining statements, as well as a pathology report, it was found there was no realistic prospect of securing a conviction.
Today Mr Butt’s devastated family say they will never get over his death.
Paul said: “Stephen’s death has shattered and devastated all of our lives. He was a loving, caring, thoughtful, generous man with a heart of gold.
“He’d never been happier. And then this happened. I don’t think we’ll ever get over it.”
Det Supt Andy Murphy, of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Investigation team, led the inquiry into Mr Butt’s death.
He told the hearing three people had been arrested following Mr Butt’s death and questioned in connection over their involvement.
He told the hearing: “We had a number of meetings with the Crown Prosecution Service. However, it was agreed there was not a realistic prospect of conviction towards any party, and as a result all three people were released without charge.”