A drunken teenage thug killed a father-of-two with a single punch just moments after wishing him a “Happy New Year”.
Cowardly Kyle Major, 14, followed his victim and hit him in the back of the head in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Unprovoked violence of this kind is completely unacceptable and will be punished.Judge Anthony Russell QC
Preston Crown Court heard Blackpool man Paul Walker, 52, was found face down in a pool of his own blood, with his hands still in his pockets.
Major, of Devonshire Road, lied to police, asked a friend to cover for him and then, just days before he was due to be sentenced, a message was posted on his Facebook page that labelled one of his friends a “snitch”.
He will be detained for three years after pleading guilty to manslaughter – meaning he will be free before he turns 18.
Judge Anthony Russell QC said: “This sort of unprovoked violence in the street is a regular feature in towns and city centres, regrettably, and it is not always possible for the perpetrators to be apprehended.
“Unprovoked violence of this kind is completely unacceptable and will be punished.”
The court heard how Major had “been allowed to run wild” – regularly drinking to excess and taking cannabis – and had seven previous convictions to his name. He initially denied being involved and texted a friend: “I’m scared. Don’t want to go to jail. Don’t say nothing.”
The court heard Major drunk six bottles of beer and a quarter of a bottle of whisky on the night.
Mr Walker, described by his family as “a lovely man with a big heart”, had lost his way after leaving his sister Harriet’s New Year’s Eve party “in good spirits”.
She said she had not only lost a brother but “her best friend” in a victim impact statements read out in court.
Mr Walker’s estranged wife Tina said: “He was not in any way a violent man. He did not deserve this.
“The boy who killed him needs to know what he has done, not only to us but the rest of us who have to live without Paul in their lives.”
Celtic fan Mr Walker was making his way to his Normoss Road home, in Grange Park, when he came across a group of youths, including Major, on Sutton Place, who told him where he was. Just moments after the 14-year-old was heard to wish Mr Walker a “Happy New Year”, he followed him down the street and floored him with one punch.
Major later claimed a friend filmed the attack on his mobile phone but no such footage has been recovered.
The victim was found unconscious by a passerby at around 2am on January 1. He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where he died.
A post mortem examination showed the cause of death was head, face and neck injuries.
Julie Taylor, defending, said Major had a difficult family background and had no previous convictions for violence.
She told the court: “There is no better sign of remorse than for someone to plead guilty. What happened in the early hours is something he bitterly regrets.
“Following his arrest it acted as a wake up call for him.”
She said Major told her: “If it was my family and the other way round, I would be devastated.”
Sentencing, Judge Russell said: “The family statements reveal how loved Paul Walker was and the devastating effect his death has had on his family.
“He has been described as a lovely man with a big heart and you, Kyle Major, were responsible for the loss of this decent man. A loss which the family will never fully recover from.”