Man jailed for killing man in row over disabled space

By Neil Logan

The man who punched and killed another man in a supermarket car park during a row over a disabled parking space has been given a five year prison sentence.

Alan Watts, aged 65, was sat in his car in the car-park of the Asda in Bedfordshire waiting for his wife to finish shopping. He observed 64 year old Brian Holmes walking up to a vehicle in a disabled space and putting a bag in the boot - Mr Holme's wife Christine is the owner of the car and she is the holder of a blue disabled badge. Mr Watts shouted out the window sarcastically to Mr Holme's: "You look like you need a wheelchair". He then got out of his car, and following an altercation between the two, he punched Mr Holmes twice before he fell to the ground and fractured his skull. Mr Watts then fled the scene of the incident.

Mr Holmes' injuries were deemed to be "non-survivable" and his life-support system was turned off the next day. He had only recently been given the all-clear after cancer treatment.

Mr Watts claimed he acted in self-defence and that Mr Holmes was verbally and physically abusive toward him, however Judge Michael Kay, QC, pointed out that he did not remain at the scene to see if he could help in any way, which he believes "would have been the actions of a humane and remorseful individual."

The case highlights the severe consequences that can arise out of a moment of madness, with altercations over car-parking, cyclists and other drivers seemingly on the increase. There is a general disdain among motorists over the inappropriate use of disabled parking spaces by non-disabled people, however this case highlights the importance of having all the facts, and even more so of exercising restraint.

What began as a man attempting to take the moral high-ground with another, incorrectly for that matter, ended with the death of a man described by his family as a "caring, loving man with no enemies and many friends." It is also of note that both men were in their 60s, and that older people are just as likely to commit the kind of crimes we might normally assume with hot-headed youths.

If you require legal advice from a criminal law solicitor in Northern Ireland contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 0546.