A professional boxer killed a dad-of-three with a single punch to the head during a drunken brawl in a South Yorkshire pub.
Daniel Gerrard, aged 30, landed the devastating blow to the neck of Robert Hurdley – killing him almost instantly.
The fighter also knocked all four of Mr Hurdley’s friends to the floor with a flurry of punches.
Mr Hurdley, aged 45, of Dinnington, had gone into the Don John, on High Street, Maltby, Rotherham with a group of parents after a rugby match involving Dinnington Rugby Club juniors on October 4 last year.
The group containing Mr Hurdley had earlier been to The Queens Hotel, where Gerrard and a group of friends were already drinking, the court heard. But Gerrard’s group left shortly afterwards, because they felt intimated by the rowdy behaviour of Mr Hurdley’s group.
Gerrard’s group then went to the Don John, where, coincidentally, Mr Hurdley’s group went at about 9.15pm.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how a member of Mr Hurdley’s group, Simon Power, got involved in what prosecutor Jonathan Sharp called a ‘tense conversation’ with a member of Gerrard’s party, Daniel Kirk, regarding an incident at a rugby match several weeks before.
CCTV images showed Mr Hurdley trying to pull his friend away from Mr Kirk while Gerrard went to the toilet – before Gerrard ran back into the bar and struck Mr Hurdley in the neck with his fist.
As Mr Hurdley lay unconscious on the floor, Gerrard floored all four others in the group while shouting at them to get out of his pub, before several of Gerrard’s party began kicking the stricken men while they were on the ground.
Gerrard then smashed a bar stool on the ground close to Mr Hurdley and told landlord Daniel Lee to destroy the CCTV footage or he would ‘knee-cap’ him, before walking out.
Mr Hurdley, who coached the under-12s team at Dinnington Rugby Club, was taken to Rotherham District Hospital, but pronounced dead on arrival.
Mr Sharp told the court: “Gerrard took irrational exception to Mr Hurdley’s group being in what he considered to be his local. He wholly overreacted to the situation, which was contributed to by his unusually drunk state.”
Gerrard, who won both of his fights as a professional boxer, including one at Barnsley’s Metrodome in 2011, later handed himself into police.
Simon Csoka, mitigating, said Gerrard was not a big drinker and alcohol had influenced him that night.
Mr Csoka said: “He recognises nothing he could do or say could possibly undo the tragedy the Hurdley family have suffered, and that the reason for that is ultimately his fault.
“His reaction to the tense situation was completely disproportionate and drink caused him to misunderstand what was actually happening.”
Gerrard, of Highfield Park, Maltby, who was already serving a suspended sentence for common assault in Rotherham last February, admitted manslaughter and affray.
Mr Justice Peter Coulson adjourned sentencing until today.
Mr Hurdley, who was a co-director of Specsavers in Chesterfield, left behind wife Alison and three young children, Thomas, Henry and Lydia.
After his death, Dinnington Rugby Club, described ‘club stalwart’ Mr Hurdley as ‘a real gentleman’.
Naz Hassen, Mr Hurdley’s co-director at Specsavers, said: “He was an outstanding colleague, mentor and friend to all and always went above and beyond to help everyone he met.”