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Punch-death Pc's widow 'will never forgive killers'

Published 31/07/2015

Pc Neil Doyle was killed before Christmas
Pc Neil Doyle was killed before Christmas

A policeman's widow whose husband was killed whilst on his work Christmas party has said that she will never forgive the two men who were behind the attack.

Sarah Doyle, the wife of Pc Neil Doyle, 36, said that her husband had been "killed on the streets that he lived to protect" after football agent Andrew Taylor, 29 and Timmy Donovan, 30, set upon him before leaving him dying in a city centre gutter.

Today they were convicted of his manslaughter by joint enterprise more than seven months after the attack which also left his two off-duty colleagues injured.

Mrs Doyle had only recently wed her " loving, caring husband" who she said had been a proud policeman, when he was delivered a fatal "piledriver" punch during the early hours of December 19 last year in Liverpool city centre,

Taylor, a £40,000 a year football consultant for the Wasserman Media Group who was said to have had a promising career ahead of him in the sporting world, and Donovan were acquitted of his murder but convicted of manslaughter by a unanimous jury of six men and six women at Liverpool Crown Court after more than 17 hours of deliberations.

In a family statement on behalf of the Doyle family they said: "He was a friend to everyone he met. He was proud to be a policeman and loved to work with the public.

"No amount of justice will ever compensate for the loss of Neil and this is something that we as a family will have to live with every day for the rest of our lives.

"I will never forgive them for what they have done. One punch was all it took to kill Neil and people should be aware of their actions whilst under the influence of drink and the devastating consequences and heartbreak that one punch can do."

Taylor and sports event manager Donovan, were said to have gone "out of their way" to get into a fight with Pc Doyle and colleagues Robert Marshall and Michael Steventon all from the Eaton Road police station.

Pc Doyle was punched twice before staggering across the street after Taylor "baited" him for a fight. Both defendants denied striking him,.

Taylor, had been described as acting in a "disinhibited and anti-social way" prior to the attack whilst Donovan was said to have been "bouncing around like a boxer in the ring".

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Taylor had taken issue with Pc Doyle as he made his way to another bar, asking him directly and in an "unsettling" manner, "are you having a good evening officer?" - yet claiming to not know he was in the force.

Despite being told to go away, Taylor declined, repeating the word "officer" and saying "that's not very nice, officer".

After following the officers into Colquitt Street the attack took place outside the Aloha Bar killing Pc Doyle and injuring his colleagues, part of which was captured on CCTV and showed Pc Marshall being kicked and punched.

The defendants claimed they had been acting in self-defence.

They were both found guilty of wounding with intent to Pc Doyle's colleague Pc Marshall and Taylor guilty of grievous body harm with intent to Pc Michael Steventon.

Their co-defendant, ex-professional footballer for North Carolina Wilmington Hammerheads, Christopher Spendlove, 30, was acquitted by the jury of murder and an alternative of manslaughter by joint enterprise.

He was cleared of the further charges he faced.

The defendants, who all knew each other through the semi-professional football scene, had been drinking in the city bars celebrating Mr Spendlove's 30th birthday.

Following the attack, Taylor, went on to tell his co-accused that he had "knocked the big fella out" as they made their way to another bar.

The blow to Pc Doyle's neck ruptured his vertebral artery and resulted in bleeding on the brain. A post-mortem examination revealed that he did not have any injuries to his hands.

The following day Taylor, who like Mr Spendlove had received a scholarship in America to study and play football at the Oklahoma City University, admitted hitting Pc Doyle on the chin "as hard as he could" and had known that he had knocked him out, because he "saw the fella's legs go under him".

He admitted striking Pc Doyle to police after walking into a police station but later said he had been mistaken as to which officer he had hit and had only struck out in self-defence.

It was the prosecution's case that Taylor delivered the "piledriver" punch and his co-defendant, Donovan, who was extradited after fleeing to Germany for a month, had acted in joint enterprise.

Prosecutor Mr Nicholas Johnson QC said the defendants had been "determined to get involved in a physical confrontation" and that it had been "one-way traffic".

Donovan, who pleaded guilty to wounding Pc Marshall, told the court that he believed Taylor had hit Pc Doyle whilst Mr Spendlove said he heard Taylor say to Pc Doyle "let's go round the corner".

Donovan was heard to say to the officers: "I told you not to front me - I gave you the chance to walk away and you didn't listen."

Detective Superintendent Mike Shaw, of Merseyside Police, said they welcomed the verdicts but that Pc Doyle's family would never get over the tragedy.

He said: "I hope that the verdicts given today will discourage others from hitting out in the heat of the moment and encourage them to think of the consequences of their actions. No night out should end like this and hopefully these verdicts will bring home the enormity of what they have done in a moment of madness and the pain and heartache they have caused."

Taylor and Donovan have been remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.

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