Killer who inflicted fatal punches is jailed

Victim John Houston
Victim John Houston

A man who killed a childhood acquaintance with two punches was today jailed for four years and eight months.

Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, said the case of John Houston, who suffered catastrophic facial injuries, was a “lesson to everyone prepared to use violence” that a punch can be fatal.

Killer Kieran Cuffe

Killer Kieran Cuffe

Defendant Kieran Cuffe, 43, of Chestnut Grove, Lancaster, inflicted two blows to the 41-year-old’s face in a row as the pair drank cider and watched a film in the victim’s home on Laburnum Close, Lancaster, on April 2, Preston Crown Court heard.

In the aftermath Cuffe visited various friends and relatives, telling them the pair had fought and asking them to “check on Houstie” - but did not seek emergency help.

When one friend had got no reply at Mr Houston’s door, Cuffe joked he was “brown bread” - slang for dead.

Mr Houston was found dead in his bedroom on April 4 by his sister Amanda McCleary.

Nearby workmen, who saw the distressed woman, used a lump hammer to break into the house where she then discovered her brother’s body.

A post mortem examination showed he had suffered a broken nose and cheekbone and had died from aspiration of blood and haemorrhaging.

Cuffe wiped away tears in the dock as the Honorary Recorder of Preston Mark Brown said: “You had known and considered him a friend for many years. It is not entirely clear what had gone on, but Mr Houston died due to punches to his head.

“The blows caused facial fractures which bled heavily and sadly he died as a result of substantial blood loss. Over the next day and a half you called on various other people to ask them to check on Mr Houston. Some of them did but after knocking at the door they didn’t get an answer.

“You never contacted the police or the ambulance services.”

Defending, Fraser Livesey said: “He recognises his remorse is woefully inadequate.”

The victim’s mother, Margaret Love, said John was a kind man from a decent family.