Man Died After Being Punched In Head At Family Gathering

An inquiry into the death of a man at a family gathering found that he was punched in the face before dying from severe injuries.

Shane Jones, 33, was at a family friend's gathering at their home in Blackwood, Wales, on the evening of January 14, 2020, when he suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Subarachnoid hemorrhages, or bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue protecting the brain, typically result from a brain aneurysm and can be fatal or cause permanent brain damage if not properly treated.

Other causes of this sort of severe hemorrhage include head trauma, a tangle in the blood vessels within the brain, or various health problems.

During the initial review on Monday, Christian Smith told the court he punched Jones in the side of the head as an act of "protection" after he claimed Jones hit him, Wales Online reported.

Smith also told the court he heard Jones, who he claimed was intoxicated, making threats to him just minutes before the physical altercation.

"I can remember him saying: 'I'm going to knock him out' or something like that," Christian Smith said about Jones during the inquiry, Wales Online reported. "I just ignored him."

According to Smith's father and a family friend, after pulling Jones into the hallway and splashing his face with water, the two realized the situation was more severe than anticipated.

Smith told the court he began resuscitation attempts on Jones in the hallway but when he was unsuccessful he "panicked and left the house," Wales Online reported.

Smith's father and a family friend said they continued the compressions until the ambulance arrived. Jones was taken to a local hospital before being transferred to a different hospital and being pronounced deceased the next day.

During the inquiry on Tuesday, the court heard from two other witnesses including Jones' sister Linda and the doctor who conducted the post mortem examination, Richard Jones. However, three witnesses that were due in court did not show up.

"Non-attendance can amount to contempt of court and I take this very seriously," senior coroner for Gwent Caroline Saunders said Tuesday. "I will be thinking about how I deal with their non-attendance after the hearing."

Linda told the court she saw Smith grab Smith "by the scruff and hit him to the side of the head." She also said she did not see her brother punch Smith beforehand.

The other witness, a paramedic who was at the scene, said a bystander was performing CPR on Jones when he arrived.

"There was a degree of note-taking, asking around the room what had happened, and someone replied that he had hit his head," the paramedic said. "There was concern there had been a trauma but we found no evidence of external trauma and no bleeding on his head."

The paramedic added that while he was there he heard someone say "'I don't care who knows, someone hit him" and told the court that was the moment he knew police needed to be involved.

Although Linda was the only witness who said they saw Smith punch Jones, Richard Jones said it was clear upon examining Jones' body that he suffered trauma to the left ear resulting in bruising on the lip and swelling in the brain.

"Given the chronology of events trauma almost certainly was a contributory factor in the associated rupture," Jones said during the inquiry.

One-punch deaths are not too uncommon around the world. In 2019, two California teens were arrested after they allegedly punched a 13-year-old peer in the face who later died. Both suspects were charged with voluntary manslaughter.

In Michigan, a man was charged with murder after he fatally punched a man in front of a bar. In many of these cases, the suspect faced jail time for either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

English ambulance at house
A man died after receiving a blow to the head during a get-together at a family friend's house. A family friend was reportedly responsible for landing the lethal punch. TACrafts/iStock

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