Man denies being involved in attack

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A man has insisted to a court he had no involvement in an 
attack on a 44-year-old who died from a head injury after a late night incident in Blackpool town centre.

It has been claimed Anthony Roberts, who suffered a fatal head injury, and a friend had used obscenities as they passed a group of people in the Queen Street area of the resort.

Robert Farrell alleged in evidence to Preston Crown Court that he thought the two men’s comments were a reference to the girlfriend of Benjamin Gayton – the man accused of killing Mr Roberts.

Gayton then headed up the road and was seen in front of the two men.

Gayton, 27, of Rodwell Walk, Grange Park, denies a charge of manslaughter over the events in March.

Mr Roberts suffered bleeding on the brain, as well as fractures to his skull and eye socket. He underwent extensive surgery but never regained consciousness and died the following month.

The prosecution allege Gayton struck a single punch to the face that caused him to fall and hit his head on the ground.

Mr Farrell said he had 
only really set eyes on the defendant two or three times in the past, but that night both ended up in the same group which left the Walkabout Bar at around 3am.

He told the court two men passed them in the street – one describd as bald – and started swearing.

“Both were doing it, using obscenities, irate language. Ben said ‘what the effing hell are they saying?

“The bald one seemed to be more drunk than the other.

“They kept turning back and just shouting obscenities, swearing and irate.”

Mr Farrell said the men were about half way up the road when Gayton went up the road.

He himself decided to walk off.

He went on to see Gayton in front of the men.

Mr Farrell said he himself became involved in a scene with the bald man.

“At first he was lunging forward, whether he was drunk or not or whether it was a lunge to have a go, he ended up grabbing my jacket and I grabbed his.

“I just said ‘leave it out, back off’.

“There was shouting between Ben and the man with hair. It was heated.

“I heard a rustling noise from my offside, my right side, it sounded like a jacket being taken off. Me and the bald man fell against something, we both sort of slid.

“We both backed off, left it alone”.

Mr Farrell said he had not involved himself with the other man.

Under cross examination, Gayton’s barrister, Chris Hudson suggested: “You are the man who punched Anthony Roberts to the floor, ultimately causing his death”.

Mr Farrell responded: “No”.

Mr Hudson then asked: “Can I suggest to you only one person was seen punching and that was you?”

Again, Mr Farrell replied: “No”.

He also denied a claim that he had run off leaving Mr Roberts seriously injured on the ground.

Mr Farrell added: “I have had an altercation with a fella with a bald head, that’s all I have done”. He said he had run off in panic.

Mr Hudson also suggested that he had been “spoiling for a fight” and that was why he had gone up the street earlier.

He also suggested Mr Roberts had not been shouting obscenities, adding: “All that chap was trying to do was get the bald man on his way home”.

Mr Farrell repeatedly refuted the claim that he had hit Mr Roberts.

“I’m not blaming anybody, but it certainly wasn’t me”, he said.