Reece Cox: How night out to celebrate a birthday ended in death of devoted father

Six friends had gone out to celebrate a birthday, relatively free to enjoy themselves following the first lockdown.

Reece Cox with his son. Photo: West Midlands Police
Reece Cox with his son. Photo: West Midlands Police

The drinks flowed, and so did the banter. When they left the pub in Sedgley that summer night it should have been the end of a good night out.

Instead, minutes later they were involved in a brutal and senseless attack that left a young father dead.

The six men, then aged between 18 and 25, were "looking for a fight" when they left the White Horse, according to prosecutor Mr David Mason QC.

And it was a "minor, innocuous collision" between one of the group and a woman Reece Cox had earlier been drinking with that sparked the violence.

Coverage of the case:

Just a brush of the shoulder, most people wouldn't give it a second thought. Instead one of the group turned and followed the woman and her boyfriend Grant Danbury, whom Mr Cox had become friendly with earlier in the evening.

The group then launched into an assault on Mr Danbury, aiming punches towards him as he desperately tried to get away from the baying mob.

He was fortunate enough to do so, running for cover and seeking refuge inside the nearby Clifton pub in the centre of Sedgley, receiving a blow to the back of the head as he did so. Security staff and others present ensured he was safe once inside.

Mr Cox was standing nearby at this point and had witnessed the commotion outside the pub. As other scuffles broke out, he intervened in an attempt to play peacemaker.

According to Mr Mason, the 24-year-old was not someone to stand by and do nothing if he saw something he didn't think was right.

But as he stepped in to try and cool the situation, the group turned on him. Mr Cox was surrounded by the six who, in the words of Mr Mason, acted like a pack of animals as they launched their savage attack, throwing kicks and punches.

Mr Cox tried to defend himself and fight back but he didn't stand a chance. He attempted to get up from the floor several times until the most shocking and chilling moment of the attack - played to the jury from CCTV - when, as a punch-drunk Mr Cox struggled onto all fours, Adam Ashwin stepped forward and delivered a sickening kick to his head, before then shouting obscenities at him at he lay unconscious and dying. The young father would never wake up.

On the stand, some of the six claimed they were trying to stop the violence and help out their mates. When watching the CCTV footage, it was hard to accept - and it did not wash with the jury.

What was crucial in this case, however, is what killed the victim. Could all six reasonably be convicted of murder? They were all involved in this shocking attack, but only one of them delivered that cowardly final kick.

The defence teams of the other five knew this only too well, which is why when on the stand their clients would accept they behaved appallingly that night but stated bluntly "I'm not the one who did it".

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