Jailed: Leigh drunk who killed ‘father figure’ – with punch meant for own brother

A boorish drunk from Wigan swung a punch at his own brother at a party only to miss – and accidentally kill one of his best friends who was trying to break up the argument.

William Lynch, 41, who was hosting the bash, had lunged at sibling Andrew in a ‘childish’ rage while demanding guests leave his home.

But as he did so inadvertently punched 62-year old Derek Szostok who hit his head against a stairwell – leaving him with a fractured neck and skull.

Mr Szostok who had tried to separate the two brothers underwent a 10-hour operation but suffered a fatal stroke and his life support machine was turned off four days later.

Today, Lynch of Leigh, Wigan, was jailed for four years and three months in prison after being convicted of manslaughter following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Police said Lynch, locally known as Billy, had lived in a flat above Mr Szostok and the two were close friends with Lynch regarding the victim as a ‘father-type figure’. They also regularly socialised in their respective flats with friends.

Tragedy struck in August last year when Lynch invited his brother, Mr Szostok and other friends over for drinks at his flat. Initially the mood was convivial but Lynch and Andrew, a labourer suddenly got into a drunken argument which witnesses said was a ‘childish row’.

It worsened when Lynch demanded his guests leave, threw a coffee table around the lounge and even put his foot through a TV screen.  Mr Szosktok got up to separate the two brothers, but during the scuffle which spilled over into the hallway he was pushed to the ground by Lynch, knocking the back of his head against the top of the stairs.

Lynch himself rang 999 and told the operator: “I have hit my neighbour hard, he’s paralysed. I didn’t mean it.”

Mr Szostok initially responded to treatment but his condition deteriorated and he died on 30 August 2014.  A Home Office post-mortem examination later established Derek died as a result of flexation of the neck.

In mitigation defence counsel Richard English said his client had vowed never to drink again. He said of Lynch and the victim: ”They were truly great friends and beyond that.  They regarded each other almost as akin to father and son, and when in hospital Mr Szostock spoke of ‘his son’ and loved him in that role.

“While nothing can come close to the loss of a brother and member of your family the loss Mr Lynch bears is very great. He has not only lost a loved friend but he bears the burden of having been the cause of that and that is a very heavy burden for anyone to have.

“It has scarred him and he will bear that scar for the rest of his life.”

Passing sentence Judge Mark Brown said Mr Szostok was ‘a kind soul’ and told Lynch: “You swung a blow at your brother but struck Mr Szostok instead. I accept you did not intend to hit him and there was no animosity directed towards him. Your actions were reckless.”

After the case Det Ch Insp Howard Millington of Greater Manchester Police said: “This is an extremely sad case, the facts of which paint a tragic picture of excessive alcohol consumption.

“Lynch looked up to Derek as a sort of father-figure, and the two were close, which make’s Derek death even more tragic.

“It is clear that Derek was trying to play peacemaker between two brothers whose argument had turned violent. He was therefore an innocent victim caught up in a row not of his own making, and sadly in trying to diffuse the row he has been pushed to the ground and suffered a fatal injury.

“It is a very sad case and I would like to extend my condolences to all of Derek’s family for the loss they have suffered. I can only hope today gives them some sense of closure following his death.

“What this case does show is that a combination of alcohol and violence can be a lethal mix. I would urge people to look at this case and think twice before consuming excess alcohol and losing self-control, resulting in people like Derek becoming unwitting and innocent victims.”

In a statement the victim’s sister, Marie, said: “Derek was a beautiful person inside and out. He had his flaws, as do we all, but he was a kind soul, often described as a good lad and always there for his family. He was kind, loving, loyal and the life and soul of every family party. We will miss him forever.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

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