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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 18:16 GMT
'I hit Newlove first', pair claim
Garry Newlove
Mr Newlove confronted the gang outside his Warrington home
Two teenagers who admit taking part in a gang attack which left a father-of-three dead both claim to have thrown the first punch.

Garry Newlove, 47, was set upon outside his home in Warrington, in August. The jury heard he was punched to the ground before being "kicked like a football".

The sales manager died from serious head injuries two days later.

Adam Swellings, 19, and another 17-year-old defendant, deny murder charges at Chester Crown Court.

Mr Swellings has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but the prosecution rejected his plea.

Three more teenagers aged 15, 16 and 17, also deny murder.

Mr Swellings and the 17-year-old told the jury they had drunk a lot of alcohol before the attack, and Mr Swellings had smoked cannabis.

That's when I got angry, because he was all right with me but he was picking on the younger ones
Adam Swellings, Defendant

Mr Swellings acknowledged that he was the oldest of the defendants but denied being a ring-leader.

After the wing mirror of Mr Newlove's Renault Scenic was kicked off, he described how the sales manager came out of the house and asked him: "Was it you who damaged my car?"

Mr Swellings said: "I told him it wasn't me. He carried on walking past me and towards the main group.

"He was shouting 'who has damaged my car' and he said "get in a circle and I'll have all 15 of you'.

"That's when I got angry, because he was all right with me but he was picking on the younger ones.

"They were shouting for me to come over. I walked up to the side of him and as he looked around I punched him in his cheek."

But the 17-year-old also claimed that he punched Mr Newlove first before fleeing.

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

He said when Mr Newlove came outside, he swore at him and told him to go back inside, the court heard.

"Then I walked away and he came up and grabbed me at the top of my arm. I turned round and punched him in the face."

The youth admitted it was a "pretty hard" punch and said it sent Mr Newlove stumbling backwards into the path of the other defendants.

He said he then ran away, leaving his shoe behind.

'Awful consequences'

Howard Bentham QC, defending Mr Swellings, said to the 17-year-old: "This story you have come up with is just that, a story.

"You have adopted and adapted Adam Swellings' defence and in actual fact you took this disgraceful attack on Mr Newlove to a whole new level when you kicked him."

The youth replied: "No, I punched him once and that was it."

Both defendants told how others knocked Mr Newlove to the ground before the gang surrounded Mr Newlove and began kicking him.

Mr Swellings' counsel, Howard Bentham QC, said to him: "You started a sequence of events which led to the death of Mr Newlove.

"Looking back on the awful consequences of what you started, how do you feel now?"

Mr Swellings said: "I feel sorry for the family of Mr Newlove."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Five teenagers deny murdering Garry Newlove



SEE ALSO
Defendants' friend blames victim
05 Dec 07 |  Merseyside
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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