May 11, 2022 5.00 pm This story is over 24 months old

Eight years in jail for man who caused death in violent traveller fight

The judge rejected claims that he did not start it

A man who admitted manslaughter after a father died following a Traveller fight in front of his own children in a Lincolnshire village was today (Wednesday) jailed for eight years.

Dean Gray, 46, died in hospital two days after being repeatedly punched in a family feud, and falling to the ground and hitting his head.

The incident took place at Fairfield Motors on Main Road, Long Bennington, on August 11 last year.

| Photo: R S Mortiss

Terence Hardy, 35, of Main Road, Long Bennington, denied murder and was cleared after a trial at Lincoln Crown Court, but had previously admitted manslaughter.

Hardy’s father-in-law, Stuart Gray Snr, 63, was found not guilty of manslaughter and possession of an offensive weapon.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Dean Gray walked into Grantham Hospital A&E after the incident, with blood pouring from his head.

| Photo: R S Mortiss

Much of what happened was captured on CCTV and was witnessed by Dean Gray’s children, the jury heard.

Andrew Selby QC, mitigating, said Mr Hardy referred to himself as a Gypsy, and his wife and children had left their home on the site following the incident.

The court heard Mr Hardy was a working man, with no previous convictions, and the sole bread winner for his family.

Flowers have been laid in tribute to Dean. | Photo: R S Mortiss

Mr Selby said Mr Hardy’s intention on the day was to resolve matters and not to cause really serious injuries to Dean Gray.

“As a result of the challenge that was laid down Mr Hardy wanted to resolve matters sooner rather than later,” Mr Selby added.

“No sooner does Mr Hardy arrive at the scene, Mr Gray removes his top, and he would have been under no illusion that a fight was going to take place.

“This was a disagreement between two sides of the same family.”

Two men were arrested and charged over Dean Gray’s death. | Photo: R S Mortiss

Mr Selby said it was significant that Mr Gray did not mention the assault when he attended Grantham Hospital.

“Even in Mr Gray’s mind this was an issue between two men.”

Passing sentence Judge Simon Hirst said he did not accept that it was Mr Gray who issued the challenge for a fight.

The judge told Hardy: “You decided you were going to fight Dean Gray to recover your pride.”

Judge Hirst added: “In my view he removed his shirt because he could see no way of avoiding a fight.

“He kept his arms by his side, and made no aggressive move towards you.”

| Photo: R S Mortiss

Judge Hirst told Hardy he also rejected his claim that Mr Gray hit him on two or three occasions while the CCTV was obscured by a pillar.

The judge told Hardy it was a brutal attack on Mr Gray which continued with punches when he was offering no resistance.

Having read the victim impact statements from Mr Gray’s family, Judge Hirst said it was clear he was a much loved father, husband and son.

Judge Hirst said: “The impact on Mr Gray’s children of watching their father being killed must be very significant.”