A brutal thug stamped and kicked an innocent grandfather man to death in a sickening “spectacle” for just £20.
Evil Christopher Walton, 24, dragged total stranger 45-year-old Christopher Hardman from a fish and chip shop and broke his jaw, fractured his eye socket, cheekbone and nose and left him with massive injuries to the brain.
Sentencing him to life with a minimum of 20 years at Minshull Street Crown Court, Judge Anthony Cross QC told him he was “satisfied that you were somehow demonstrating to your so-called associates how vicious you could be,” reports the Manchester Evening News.
He added that “Anyone who has had to watch the shocking CCTV footage of what you did to the deceased over the course of 10 minutes would struggle to understand how one human being could descend to the brutal violence that you inflicted on a defenceless man who was doing no more than going to buy some food from his local chip shop.”
The prosecution said Walton, who admitted murder, rained down “a merciless series of stamps and blows” after coming across Mr Hardman and a pal while loitering outside the Seven Acres Fish and Chip shop on Winchester Way, Bolton, dressed all in black.
Walton stopped the friends from going into the chip shop and demanded money, saying “you got my 20 bar”.
Mr Hardman’s mate Anthony Miller sensed something was wrong and that this could be the start of a robbery – but his pal proceeded on into the chippy.
This was when violent, drunken Walton dragged the defenceless granddad out of the store and began his “merciless” attack, knocking Mr Hardman out cold with a punch to the head.
Walton, of Tonge Moor Road, Bolton, then rifled through the pockets of his victim before leaving him momentarily.
Then, as the 45-year-old began to show signs of regaining consciousness, Walton approached him and began kicking and stamping on his head repeatedly in a “ferocious” beating.
He then left him to die, the judge was told.
Opening the case, prosecutor Tim Storrie QC told the court that on July 13 last year, Mr Hardman and friend Anthony Miller had met and decided to get some food from their local takeaway.
“As they went to go into the chip shop, they saw the defendant who said, ‘you got my 20 bar’,” Mr Storrie added.
“Mr Miller felt this was a robbery and didn’t carry on, but Mr Hardman did, and he was dragged out of the shop by the same man who had asked him for money.
“Mr Miller said he gave the defendant all the money he had on his person.
“Those living nearby were distracted by a man who was loud but ‘not out of control’, who was making repeated demands of ‘where is my money’.
“It’s apparent the demands continued to be made even after Mr Hardman was knocked to the ground.”
CCTV footage shown to the court captured an attack comprising of a”merciless series of stamps and blows”’.
Mr Miller is shown to hand money over to Walton, before the thug began to “rag” Mr Hardman about, knocking him to the ground, the court heard.
He then “rifled” through his pockets, before chasing Mr Miller.
As Mr Hardman regained consciousness and moved his head, Walton returned, to kick and stamp on his head as he lay motionless on the ground outside the chip shop.
“It must have been clear during the course of that attack when he was conscious that he was seriously injured,” Mr Storrie, prosecuting,continued.
“The last phase [of the attack] was designed to cause maximum damage to Christopher Hardman.
“It’s the prosecution case that violence was used when others were nearby in order to provide a spectacle to the associates of Mr Hardman.
“During the course of that incident, Mr Hardman must have suffered some significant degree of mental or physical injury over a prolonged period of time.”
Following reports of the assault to the police, officers arrived and found Mr Hardman was unconscious and bleeding heavily.
He was taken to Salford Royal Hospital, but despite the best efforts of medical staff, died on July 21.
In a post mortem report, a pathologist found he suffered a number of blunt force injuries including a jaw fracture, a fractured eye socket, cheekbone and nose, as well as massive injuries to the brain.
Walton was arrested the following day on July 14 and gave a ‘no comment’ interview, telling officers “that could have been f***ing anyone” when he was shown the CCTV footage.
Mr Hardman had battled addiction in his life.
In a victim personal statement, his mother Lynn, said: “Chris had a warm and lovely heart. He made friends with people easily and was a respectful and polite adult,” she said.
“He didn’t always make the best choices, but he was a much loved son, brother, father, grandfather, nephew, cousin and friend.”
Walton was said to have previous convictions for interfering with a vehicle and attempted burglary from when he was a youth.
In mitigation, his defence lawyer Richard Littler QC said this would be his first significant sentence of imprisonment.
“This was very sadly the kind of incident that unhappily happens in our streets in the evenings,” the defence barrister said.
“It’s an example of drunken thuggery, it’s an example of the defendant looking for trouble and trying to start a situation.”
Sentencing him to life in prison, with a minimum of 20 years to serve, Judge Anthony Cross QC said: “Anyone who has had to watch the shocking CCTV footage of what you did to the deceased over the course of 10 minutes would struggle to understand how one human being could descend to the brutal violence that you inflicted on a defenceless man who was doing no more than going to buy some food from his local chip shop.
“The Crown are right to describe this ‘a merciless series of stamps and blows’.
“What makes your conduct even more grave is to be found in the fact that you would leave the prone body of your victim and then return to it and inflict more harm.
“I am satisfied that you were somehow demonstrating to your so-called associates how vicious you could be.
“After you had finished with him you left him for dead.”