A violent ‘hard man’ thug killed a loving dad who accidentally stood on his foot in a nightclub.
Robert Owen Greenhalgh, 31, struck Robert Smethurst, 36, as the dad-of-two celebrated his birthday with his cousin Aaron Bates.
Greenhalgh, a steroid and cocaine-addled bodybuilder who deemed himself the “hardest c*** in the North West”, appeared at Manchester Crown Court for sentencing for the unprovoked assault, Liverpool Echo reports.
Mr Smethurst had accidentally trodden on Greenhalgh’s foot earlier in the evening, but he had said sorry and there were no further issues while they were both in Luxe Lounge, Bolton.
Without warning, at around 1.30am, Greenhalgh hit Mr Bates and then punched Mr Smethurst with the force of a “heavyweight boxer”, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Mr Bates was able to break his fall but the blow to Mr Smethurst caused immediate brain trauma even before he fell to the ground. After brutally attacking the pair, Greenhalgh puffed out his chest and shouted “Who else wants some?”
He has now been declared “dangerous” and jailed for more than 11 years after admitting manslaughter following the attack on September 2 last year.
“Not for one moment did you consider that which you had done, other than to glory in your achievement and invite others to attack you,” sentencing judge Anthony Cross QC said.
Mr Smethurst’s wife Amanda, a primary school teacher, bravely told a packed courtroom of how her life has been turned upside down by the loss of her soulmate. “I was robbed of my husband, my best friend, my happiness and my future all in one,” she said.
Labeling Greenhalgh as a ‘coward’, she added: “How could someone be so violent and hateful towards my husband who did absolutely nothing to deserve this attack? The love for my husband is overwhelming proof of what an incredible man he is. I miss him more than words could ever describe.”
Greenhalgh, known to friends and family as Owen, has no previous convictions but a police interrogation of his phone revealed a ‘predilection’ for violence. A former debt collector, he bragged that he had ‘knocked out’ three people on one occasion.
He described himself as being ‘the hardest c*** in the North West’ and talked about punching someone while wearing a knuckleduster, prosecutor Rob Hall said. Police were unable to trace victims relating to the phone messages, but the judge said they were relevant in declaring him a ‘dangerous offender’.
Greenhalgh also talked of using steroids to bulk up as he regularly visited the gym, and also bragged of his cocaine use. In messages he claimed to have used £50,000’s of the class A drug in six months. His relationship with him had broken down and he began living in hotels and at friends’ homes.
Family and friends tried to persuade him to kick his drug habit, and his mother issued a stark plea to her son in one message. She said: “Owen you should be ashamed of yourself. You are kidding yourself if you think this is going to end well. The only way this is going to end is death for you.
“You are so far gone now that you don’t even know what is right and wrong anymore, and for your information only idiots do what you are doing, not nice people. You lie, you cheat, you control with brute force but you will die if you don’t stop. I’m done with you I’m afraid. It’s ok but you need help.”
“She was wrong about one thing only,” Judge Cross said. “It would not be your death of her but the death of a wholly innocent man.”
On the night he killed Mr Smethurst, he had been out drinking cider and vodka and had snorted cocaine before later arriving at Luxe Lounge with his best friend.
Mr Smethurst had been dropped off at a snooker hall in Bolton by his wife, where he enjoyed a few pints with his cousin to celebrate both their birthdays.
The pair arrived at Luxe Lounge at about 11.15pm. At about 11.40pm Mr Smethurst accidentally stood on Greenhalgh’s foot, but he apologized and they left on good terms.
About 10 minutes prior to the fatal attack, there was some ‘innocent’ conversation between the two groups but no trouble was apparent. Greenhalgh, who had been sitting in a booth at the club, then suddenly got up, clapped his hands and punched both Mr Smethurst and his cousin.
Mr Bates was able to break his fall and suffered concussion. He had no memory of the attack. But Mr Smethurst suffered immediate brain trauma. He was declared dead about an hour later.
Even Greenhalgh’s friend said he was ‘totally shocked’ by what happened, as it was ‘so out of the blue’. Greenhalgh puffed his chest out and offered further violence.
“It is unsurprising not one single person including the door staff intervened, such was the terror you caused inside that club,” Judge Cross told Greenhalgh. Greenhalgh then drove away in his work van, despite being unfit through drink and drugs.
He was later found in a hotel in Leigh. Police discovered a syringe containing traces of testosterone and trenbolone, a steroid ordinarily used by vets to increase muscle growth and appetite in livestock, in his work van de el.
In an interview with officers, Greenhalgh ‘blamed’ Mr Smethurst and Mr Bates for being ‘cocky’ and claimed they had looked at him ‘funnily’, even after being shown CCTV footage which proved their innocence. He also tried to blame his actions on the alcohol and drugs he had used.
Greenhalgh was initially charged with murder but admitted manslaughter, a plea accepted by prosecutors who ruled there would be no realistic prospect of a conviction for murder. Moving tributes were paid in court to Mr Smethurst. His 13-year-old daughter described him as being “warm hearted”, “caring” and “fun.”
He loved fishing and spending time with his family. He and his wife dreamed of taking early retirement in France, she said. His parents told of their pride at their “beautiful” son.
Defending, Michael Brady QC said Greenhalgh, of no fixed address, is remorseful and ashamed of his behaviour. He described Greenhalgh’s messages from him about his drug use and apparent violence as “unpleasant boasts.”
Judge Cross sentenced Greenhalgh to 11 years and three months in jail. He will serve two-thirds of the term in prison. When released he will have to observe an added three years and nine months on license.
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