Man died after hitting head during fight with friend over stolen alcohol

Matthew Adams told concerned passers-by friend Wayne Elliott 'would get up in a minute' after hitting his head during the brawl.

Wayne Elliot died in Edinburgh after fight with friend Matthew Adams over stolen alcohol Police Scotland

A man who killed his best friend in a broad daylight attack in a busy city centre street was jailed for five years and four months.

Matthew Adams lashed out at Wayne Elliot on Edinburgh’s Princes Street resulting in the victim hitting his head on the ground.

Adams, 38, told a witness after the lethal assault: “We’re friends. He’ll be up in a minute. We don’t need police.”

Passers-by went to the aid of the stricken victim and emergency services were contacted but Mr Elliott, 53, died three days later in hospital after sustaining a serious head injury.

A judge told Adams at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You had been drinking and were the principal aggressor. You were the bigger man.”   

Lady Poole pointed out that Adams has “an appalling record of previous convictions” and had been sentenced on 34 occasions for about 60 offences.

The judge told him that he would have faced an eight-year term if convicted after trial but the sentence would be reduced to 64 months imprisonment following his early plea to the culpable homicide charge.

Adams, of no fixed abode, earlier admitted killing Mr Elliott by repeatedly striking him, causing him to fall and strike his head on August 13 last year.

The judge was shown footage of the fatal attack which was captured on CCTV with Adams punching his victim before knocking him over with his shoulder.  

Advocate depute Gavin Dewar said: “Passers-by reported hearing a crack or a thud as the back of Mr Elliott’s head struck the tarmac.”

The prosecutor said the two men were associates from the homeless community in the Portsmouth area in the south of England.

He told the court: “The accused and Mr Elliott had travelled north with the intention of begging during the Edinburgh Festival.”

They had been sitting outside a bank and both appeared highly intoxicated before an altercation broke out between them.

Mr Dewar said the Crown accepted that Mr Elliott stole drink from Adams and urinated on steps, with urine flowing into the killer’s possessions.

After the fatal attack Adams went to Haymarket rail station and travelled north to Inverness where he was arrested by police.

Following the assault the victim was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where a CT scan revealed a large amount of blood around his brain. His condition did not improve and a decision was taken to take him off a ventilator three days after he was admitted.

Following a post-mortem the cause of death was given as complications of a blunt force head trauma.

Defence solicitor advocate Iain McSporran KC said that Adams was “genuinely distressed” as he had deprived himself of the company of his best friend by his own actions.

He said it was a one-off offence with “tragic consequences”.

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