Teen denies killing man (48) in Briercliffe street attack

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A BURNLEY teenager “panicked” and “didn’t know what to do” following a fatal attack in Briercliffe.

Darren Atkinson (48) died two weeks after being assaulted in Standen Hall Drive on March 25th.

Luke Smith (18), of Marsden Road, denies a charge of manslaughter while Elliot Burns (17), who is originally from Burnley but now lives in Bedlington, has already admitted the same charge.

Smith told the jury at Preston Crown Court he had gone to find Mr Atkinson after his girlfriend told him a man in the street had been shouting abuse at her.

“I met up with her at the junction of Red Spar Road and Hillingdon Road. She was in hysterics and said a man had been following her. I just wanted to go and see who he was.”

He saw Mr Atkinson in Standen Hall Drive and, from around 30m, away shouted: “Oi, have you been shouting at my girlfriend?”

Smith said Mr Atkinson replied: “Yes.”

Before he had chance to get closer, Burns, a friend of a few weeks who he had been speaking to in the street earlier, ran past him and punched Mr Atkinson in the back of the head.

Mr Atkinson then flagged down a car in the middle of the road and while both he and Burns were standing at the driver’s door, Smith said he heard Burns say “carry on, it’s OK”.

After the car drove away, Burns hit Mr Atkinson again in the back of the head. He fell, hit his head on the pavement and ended up in the front garden of a house in Standen Hall Drive.

“I was shocked and didn’t know what to do,” said Smith. “I can’t describe it really. I panicked. I didn’t know whether to stay or go. I went over to him, moved his face and could see he was still alive. I saw someone at the window and so jogged off.”

Under cross-examination, Smith, who was described by character references as polite, conscientious and pleasant, said he had no intent whatsoever of carrying out any violence towards Mr Atkinson and only wanted to ease his girlfriend’s worries.

“I just wanted to find him and then be able to come back and say to her ‘look it’s OK he was just a drunk and he didn’t know what he was saying’.

Mr Jeremy Lasker (prosecuting) suggested though that Smith knew there was going to be some kind of confrontation as soon as he set off.

“I didn’t ask for any violence,” responded Smith. “I did not agree with him hitting this man.”

Smith went to Burnley Police Station two days after the attack but prosecutor Mr Lasker said he only went because his girlfriend’s parents made him and they were taking there daughter there anyway.

“I was not told to go to the police by them, they advised me to go. I was always going to go to the police. I wanted to tell my dad first though and there was no good time to tell him what had happened.”