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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 21:24 GMT
Defendants' friend blames victim
Garry Newlove
Mr Newlove confronted the gang outside his Warrington home
A teenager who was with a gang on the night they allegedly punched a man to death has claimed the victim first threatened to "knock them all out".

Ashley Roberts, 19, a friend of the defendants, said Garry Newlove ordered them to get in a circle to hit them.

The court has already heard the youths are accused of surrounding Mr Newlove, 47, outside his home in Warrington and kicking him to death.

Five teenagers on trial at Chester Crown Court deny murder.

He was using threatening behaviour towards us
Ashley Roberts, friend of the defendants

The court has heard Mr Newlove had gone out of his home on Station Road, Fearnhead, to confront a gang of youths, who he believed were vandalising his wife Helen's car.

He suffered serious head injuries after the alleged attack on 10 August and never regained consciousness, dying in Warrington Hospital two days later.

Mr Roberts told the court he saw Adam Swellings, the only defendant who can be named, drinking White Lightning, a strong cider in the run up to the attack.

The teenager said: "(Mr Newlove) was shouting about some car, shouting at me and my mates.

"He was using threatening behaviour towards us. "

Adam Swellings
Mr Swellings pleaded guilty to manslaughter but this was rejected

Mr Roberts then described to court how he watched as Mr Swellings, known to his friends as Swellhead, stand behind Mr Newlove and "hit him".

Mr Newlove then fell to the ground and was "kicked like a football", the prosecution alleged.

The sales manager had been preparing for a family holiday with his wife, Helen, 44, and their daughters Zoe, 18, Danielle, 15 and Amy, 12 prior to his death.

The boys - two aged 17, a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old, none of whom can be named for legal reasons - deny murder.

Mr Swellings, from Crewe, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter, although his plea has not been accepted by the prosecution team.

Gang 'all joined in the kicking'
21 Nov 07 |  Merseyside
Family saw father kicked to death
19 Nov 07 |  Merseyside
Youths accused of father's murder
14 Nov 07 |  Merseyside

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