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Man who killed friend with one punch jailed for four years

By John Scott | West Bromwich | Crime | Published:

A man with a violent past who killed a childhood friend with a single punch has been jailed for four years.

Marcus Parchment killed his friend Damien Howl with one punch

Marcus Parchment's blow to the side of the neck was delivered with such force that Damien Howl was "dying from that moment onwards," Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

The 42-year-old father was knocked off his feet and fell backwards, hitting his head on the ground outside the bungalow home the attacker shared with his grandmother in Heath Lane, West Bromwich.

Parchment, also 42, made an emergency call to the ambulance service and tried to resuscitate him with CPR until the paramedics arrived to rush the victim to hospital following the 5am attack on June 5.

The defendant sobbed: "I killed him, oh God I killed him" before adding: "I don't know why he wanted to fight with me. Damien is dead and its my fault."

Damien Howl, left, and police at the scene where he was punched

The victim suffered a fractured spinal column and an inoperable brain injury caused by a severed artery, explained Mr Amjad Malik QC, prosecuting.

Mr Howl was put on a life support machine to give relatives time to reach the hospital and say their final goodbye before he was officially certified as dead at 4.13pm the same day.

Tragedy struck after the two friends had been on an all-night cocaine and alcohol binge but it remains unclear what triggered the fatal punch.

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Mr Howl was three times the drink-drive limit and tested positive for cocaine, as did Parchment who could not be checked for alcohol intake in time, continued Mr Malik.

The defendant had previous convictions involving 19 separate offences, six of which comprised violent offence.

His own cousin described him as an "intimidating and overbearing" regular cocaine taker.

Born within a month of each other

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Mr Gurdeep Garcha, defending, said that Parchment knew Mr Howl's family would never forgive him but added: "His remorse was tangible in his actions from the very first moments following the incident.

"He and the deceased were born within a month of each other and he regarded him as a dear friend. The outcome was a wholly unwanted consequence. He recognised his wrong doing and took full responsibility."

Parchment pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was jailed with a three-year extension to the period of monitoring on his release which cannot be considered until he has served two thirds of the sentence.

Judge James Burbidge QC told him: "You have not appreciated how dangerous you can be with your fists and are prone to aggressive behaviour without considering the consequences.

"It is not totally clear what happened but you punched him so hard he was dying from that moment onwards. You ended his life but have devastated far more."

Mr Howl's sister Ms Emily Mills confirmed: "That evil, nasty person has no idea how many lives he has devastated."

His partner Ms Nicola Jennings fought back tears as she said: "Life has no real meaning any more. I cannot forgive - the silence is too loud."

His mother concluded: "He killed a little bit of all of us. The family are like a jigsaw without a vital piece - broken."

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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