Boxer convicted of punch murder

Bradley Hinkler in the ring, aged 16. He's now been convicted of murdering dad-of-two Thomas Gower with a single punch.
Bradley Hinkler in the ring, aged 16. He's now been convicted of murdering dad-of-two Thomas Gower with a single punch.

A BOXER from Sheffield who killed a dad-of-two with a devastating single punch outside a city bar is facing life behind bars after being convicted of murder.

Bradley Hinkler, aged 20, of Kilvington Road, Woodthorpe, killed Thomas Gower, 26, from Gleadless Valley, with a fatal blow near Alibi bar on Trippet Lane.

Thomas was unconscious before he hit the ground, and suffered massive head injuries. He died in hospital last Boxing Day, just over a week after the attack.

Minutes before punching Thomas, the killer had knocked out the murder victim’s friend Richard Howard, who believed the amateur boxer was responsible for injuring two of his pals in a brawl inside Alibi.

Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court took four-and-a-half hours to find Hinkler guilty by unanimous verdict of murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Hinkler, wearing a black shirt and tie, bowed his head when the verdict was delivered. Members of Thomas’s family broke down in tears.

Some of Hinkler’s supporters reacted with anger, swearing and slamming the door to the public gallery.

The boxer, who will be sentenced later this month, used to train at the Steel City Gym in Heeley. Jurors heard he “packs a powerful punch”.

One witness described him as a ‘predator going out for a kill’ when he chased Thomas and threw a right hook to his face from behind. Others saw him smirking as he strode back to his friends afterwards.

Following the verdict, Thomas’ parents Keith and Susan Gower described the murder as a ‘tragedy’.

“No sentence no matter how long will ever bring Thomas back to us. It’s a loss family and friends will have to live with for the rest of our lives.

“We can only hope a lesson can be learned, and that is young men start to realise the answer to their differences is not achieved by violence - it only results in tragedy.”

Thanking those who gave first aid to Thomas after he was punched, Mr Gower added: “We’re comforted by the fact he was with loving people that cared about him.”

Det Supt Andy Thompson, who led the murder investigation, said Hinkler “clearly intended to get involved in violence” on December 18.

“As an experienced and talented amateur boxer, he should have known better. At the drop of a hat, Hinkler started to become involved in a disturbance inside the Alibi bar, directing well-aimed punches. He continued to conduct himself in this manner outside.

“Thomas Gower was a hard-working family man, the father to two young boys. Clearly, his family are still devastated by their loss.”

Hinkler has shown no remorse, Det Supt Thompson added. “He has not once apologised, and he persistently lied. All people, particularly young men, should think twice before engaging in senseless violence and should learn lessons from the tragic death of Thomas.”

Initially Hinkler denied the attacks, only admitting his involvement after discovering he had been caught on CCTV. He later claimed he acted in self-defence, telling jurors Richard had a bottle and Thomas was going to get a knife.