A 56-YEAR-OLD man has been sentenced to four years for the manslaughter of a long-standing friend in what a judge described as a "terribly sad case". 

David Ryder, 60, died three days after being punched near the Pizza Chef takeaway on Baldwin Street at 12.30am on Saturday, December 2, 2017. 

Terry Maguire of Woolton Road, Woolton, Liverpool pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday (February 6). 

The court heard that Maguire and Mr Ryder had been part of a group of eight friends, who were members of a walking group, and had attended a gin festival at St Helens town hall earlier in the evening of Friday, December 1.

Prosecutor Robert Jones told the court there had been "no question of any animosity" during the event and "nothing to suggest the evening was anything other than wholly convivial".

The group went to the A to B taxi rank on Baldwin Street to travel home, with four members initially obtaining a taxi, leaving four behind, including Maguire and Mr Ryder.

Maguire, who was described as "drunk", decided to go for some food and left the others in a queue, with a taxi arriving while he was away. 

While waiting, the driver told the others if he didn't return "in the next minute or two", they would have to vacate the taxi. 

Initially a woman member of the group went up to Maguire, who was heard to shout "he wanted some food" while she retorted that she "all she wanted to do was go home".

Mr Jones added that at this point, Mr Ryder crossed the road intending to "calm the situation" adding there "was no suggestion of any aggression on his part".

He said: "Nobody except perhaps the defendant could have predicted what was going to happen next" as Maguire punched Mr Ryder in the face in what was described "as a forceful blow delivered without any warning" with the victim's "head heard to strike the road surface".

St Helens Star:

Police on Baldwin Street the morning after the incident

After police arrived at the scene, Maguire admitted striking the blow to officers saying "I did it, it was just an argument between friends".
Dad-of-three Mr Ryder suffered a skull fracture and significant brain damage and died in hospital on Tuesday, December 5. 

Mr Jones read a victim impact statement from on behalf of Mr Ryder's family written by his son John which said "the loss of our dad has been the hardest thing we have ever had to face". It added: "We will cherish memories of our dad, we are devastated that memories are all we have left". 

In passing sentence, judge Alan Conrad QC said to Maguire, who was wearing a suit and tie: "This is a terribly sad case. 

"What should have been a pleasant night out ended with the death of a good man and you facing criminal responsibility for having caused that death".

He added: "You are 56 years old and have had a positively good character" and that he accepted "numerous testimonials from people who think very highly of you.

"I am sure that you constantly think about what you have done and how much you regret it" adding this "has to be balanced by the grief that Mr Ryder's family have had to endure".

The judge said he deemed that after a trial, the "appropriate sentence" would have been six years, which he reduced by a third due to a "prompt plea of guilty".

Maguire will serve a half of his four-year sentence in prison, and then will be released on licence. 

Defending, Stuart Nolan said that Maguire is "extremely remorseful" and "aware that he has destroyed one family's lives and calculable damage to his own". 

The incident was the second single punch incident to have led to a death in St Helens town centre within a few months, although both cases happened in different sets of circumstances.

Actor and poet Len Saunders died in July after being attacked by a drunken yob because he did not give him a cigarette.