A disabled grandfather jailed for three-and-a-half years for killing the elderly brother of Hollywood legend Deborah Kerr in a road rage attack has had his sentence reduced by 12 months.
Eugene Warwood (56) pleaded guilty last year to the manslaughter of retired journalist Edmund Trimmer, aged 78, who died in hospital hours after an incident in Birmingham in August 2004.
Warwood, of Salop Road, Redditch, Worcestershire, fractured the jaw of his victim with a punch during an unprovoked attack after a wing mirror was knocked off his van, Birmingham Crown Court had heard. Mr Trimmer, the younger brother of Kerr, struck his head on the ground when he fell and died of a brain haemorrhage later that evening.
The Court of Appeal in London ruled yesterday that the original sentence could not stand and imposed a new term of two-and-a-half years.
During the appeal against sentence before Lord Justice Keene and two other judges it was argued by counsel on Warwood's behalf that the three-and-a-half years was "manifestly excessive".
When jailing Warwood last August, the Recorder of Birmingham, Judge John Saunders, QC, said he had lost his self-control.
Warwood, who was disabled in an industrial accident in 2002, had intended to hit Mr Trimmer, from Kings Norton, Birmingham, even though he knew he was elderly, and left the scene despite it being obvious that he was injured, said the judge. Judge Saunders said Mr Trimmer was a highly respected man enjoying a well-earned retirement.
Giving the ruling of the appeal court yesterday, Mr Justice Gross said that the force of the blow to the victim's face, which fractured his jaw, "knocked him to the ground and as a result he hit his head on the ground".
The judge added: "At that point the appellant left the scene and drove off. A number of people witnessed what happened and came to the aid of the victim.
"He was taken to hospital where tragically it became apparent that he had a serious head injury."
Mr Justice Gross said the aggravating factors in the case included the fact that the incident arose out of road rage, Warwood had struck an elderly victim with a blow of "significant force" and had not given any assistance.
On the other hand, he said, the mitigating factors included Warwood's age, his early guilty plea and "the question of whether sufficient credit was given for that", his disability and "the fact that the offence was out of character".
Mr Justice Gross concluded: "Having anxiously considered the matter and having regard to the various matters of mitigation, not least the appellant's own physical condition, his plea and the fact that this was an offence where the consequences outstripped the intention, we are driven to conclude that the sentence cannot stand.
"In our judgment the sentence must be reduced to one of two years and six months," he added. ..SUPL: