Paul Atherton (pictured above) has been sentenced today (Thursday 2nd November) to a minimum of 16 years in prison for the murder of a 22-year-old man in Blackpool.
Twenty-two-year-old Ryan David Harvey (pictured below) was viciously attacked on Central Drive at around 5.30pm on June 25th, suffering serious head injuries. He was taken to hospital but sadly didn’t recover and passed away in hospital on June 28th.
Today Paul Atherton, 38, of Knowsley Crescent, Thornton, was handed a life sentence and told he must serve a minimum of 16 years before being eligible for release. It comes after he was found guilty yesterday at Preston Crown Court of the murder.
In a tribute following his death, Ryan’s family said “a family has lost their little boy”. They added: “Our little Ryan was a bubbly lad who would do anything for anyone. Ryan was a lifelong Walsall FC fan who lived and breathed football. We are absolutely heartbroken.”
A post-mortem examination following Ryan’s murder concluded that the cause of his death was blunt head trauma.
The Police Force Major Investigation Team launched a murder inquiry, and two men were charged.
Thomas Heaney, 32, of Cross Street, Fleetwood was also charged with murder following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, but he admitted a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and the murder charge was dropped. He was sentenced earlier.
The court heard that while both Atherton and Heaney punched Ryan, it was clear from the CCTV and expert medical evidence that Atherton struck the fatal blow.
Atherton was also convicted of assault and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.
DCI Rach Higson, of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: “First and foremost we send our deepest condolences to Ryan’s family and friends. It is clear from the things they have told us that Ryan was a gentle, kind and beloved young man, who should have had his whole life ahead of him.
“Their loss is immeasurable and although nothing can bring Ryan back, I hope the sentence today gives them some form of closure so they can begin to move forward and grieve. Our thoughts will remain with them for a long time.
“The incident took place in broad daylight on a busy street. Numerous witnesses saw the incident which was also captured on CCTV, and what the evidence showed was that Atherton displayed an almost animalistic level of violence. Our thanks go to the jury for reaching a guilty verdict in this case because they have ensured that a dangerous, violent man is off the streets for at least 16 years.”