Family of man killed by friend call for tougher sentences

Family of father-of-one who was killed by single punch in fight with friend condemn attacker’s seven year jail term and launch campaign calling for tougher sentences

  •  Scott Akester, 31 died after an argument with friend Michael Pearson, 30
  •  Victim’s family believe tougher sentences would deter would-be attackers

The family of a man killed by a friend in a one-punch attack want to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol-fuelled fights, saying they ‘change lives forever’.

Scott Akester, 31, died in November last year after being assaulted by Michael Pearson, 30, outside a pub in Hull.

A court heard the pair, who had known each other for 17 years, got into an argument after a night of heavy drinking, which ended with Pearson punching Scott.

Scott then fell backwards, banging his head on the floor. He died of his injuries in hospital.

Pearson was jailed for seven-and-a-half years at Hull crown court last month after being convicted of manslaughter.

Scott Akester, 31, died in November last year after being assaulted by Michael Pearson, 30, outside a pub in Hull

Scott’s family have launched an awareness campaign about the effects of alcohol-fuelled fights

Scott is survived by his partner Naomi (middle) and daughter Ella (right)

Michael Pearson, 30, was jailed for seven and a half years at Hull crown court last month

A memorial to Scott, who was killed after being punched by Pearson following a night of heavy drinking

But Scott’s family – his partner Naomi Allen, mum Debbie Akester and dad Stephen Akester – say the sentence should have been much longer.

And they now want to warn others about the harm that can be done with a single punch, and have launched a petition.

Debbie, a local government officer, 57, said: ‘The best thing to do is walk away and not throw that punch – people don’t realise the impact that it can have.

‘You can kill someone or cause brain damage. It changes lives forever. It’s not just that one person but their families too.

‘His four-year-old won’t have that support from her dad growing up now.

‘And we feel we don’t have the justice we deserve in terms of the sentence that was given.

‘I’d like to see sentencing matching other countries. In Australia it’s 25 years for a one punch killing.’

Naomi, 32, a laundry assistant, who is now looking after her and Scott’s child Ella Akester, four, alone, added: ‘To kill somebody in that way and to be out within five years, I feel as if Scott was nothing – and he was everything to us.’

The Australian state of New South Wales introduced tough new laws in 2014 to try and combat alcohol-fuelled violence.

These include a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years for an assault causing death, rising to a maximum of 25 years.

Scott, who was working as a trainee joiner at Pearson’s business, and Pearson had been drinking with friends when they became involved in an argument.

A court was told this was defused – before Pearson, of Saltshouse Road, Hull, launched an attack.

Scott tragically died from his injuries on November 19, 2022.

Pearson was then arrested and charged with murder – but pleaded not guilty.

A jury convicted him of manslaughter following a three-week trial and he was sentenced on June 29, 2023.

The family say they now want to campaign for a change in sentence length for one punch killings and hope to encourage drinkers to consider the consequences before turning to violence.

Scott’s parents believe that harsher sentences would help deter potential attackers

Scott Akester (middle) with mother Debbie (right) and father Stephen (left)

They say they hope to make would-be attackers think twice before throwing a punch and believe the way to do so is to enforce harsher sentences.

Dad Stephen, 60, a HGV driver, said: ‘I was furious when he got the sentence, I was expecting about 11 years and then to get seven-and-a-half.

‘There’s no justice for my lad out of that I don’t think, that’s how I feel.

‘That’s why I’m campaigning all the time to get awareness out, there’s no deterrent on the sentence and doesn’t send much of a message.

‘It’s a betrayal from a friend of 17 years, it’s not as straightforward as people thought so I wasn’t happy with it one bit.’

And Naomi, who is now a single parent, said: ‘It’s so sad to think that all we get is to go to Scott’s grave – obviously you want the best for your child and for her just to be left with that, it’s heartbreaking.

‘We couldn’t get out head around how Scott, this 6ft1 big man has died from one punch, you don’t have to be weak or little, it can happen to anyone.

‘She knows Scott has left, but recently she’s been asking when he gets better will he get back – it’s hard to know what to say to her, you don’t want to start it all again by saying no.’

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