3 posts / 0 new
Last post
Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture
24 Hours in Police Custody: One Punch (Channel 4)

Last Thursday (12th of May), the Channel 4 programme “24 Hours in Police Custody” covered the tragic case of a gentleman who was killed by a single punch outside a night club. The coverage of how the police investigated the event has relevance to many of the topics discussed here. In particular, pre-emptive striking and what is self-defence and what is not.

Spoiler Alert: The person who delivered the strike initially gave a version of events to police which were entirely consistent with UK self-defence law (and the police were sympathetic with it at first) … However, CCTV footage and the testimony of eye-witnesses unravelled that version of events and saw him charged with, and subsequently prosecuted for, manslaughter. It was not self-defence.

One person dead and one with a serious prison sentence (and the death of another person on his conscious?) because of one punch thrown in anger. The law gives us the right to defend ourselves, it does not give us the right to “settle scores” and fight in the street. The program underlines the fact that violence has very severe consequences and that they only time we should act physically is when there is truly no other option.

Those in the UK can watch the show online for the next seven days. Well worth a watch:


All the best,


Tau's picture

I watched it last week and meant to start a thread on it. I can't remember why I didn't. But yes, fascinating.

What struck me is that the accused was clearly intelligent and articulate an initially gave a convincing story that was inkeeping with British law, including teh use of pre-emptive striking. I also concede that what we saw is 24 hours condensed to one hour and is also what the documentary makers want us to see. I strongly suspect that there was much more to it than what we saw. And yes, it seemed at first like the accused was actually the victim and his sole mistake was not voluntarily submitting himself to the Police.

What I also gained from the program is the effect of a good witness and the prescence of CCTV both of which were probably what secured the conviction.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Tau wrote:
What I also gained from the program is the effect of a good witness and the presence of CCTV both of which were probably what secured the conviction.

Defiantly. The many witness statements made clear it was not self-defence, and did not happen as the convicted person originally described. The CCTV footage obviously clinched it because it clearly shows there was no threat from the person struck and it was the convicted person who was the aggressor.

I doubt the person who threw the fatal punch intended to kill the victim though (for those who did not see the programme, the convicted person was angry because the victim had tried to give the convicted person’s girlfriend his phone number). It does show that having a “low threshold for violence” has awful consequences. One guy dead, and another imprisoned for a very long time over an inability to control anger over such a small thing.

It also a remainder for those with “hair triggers” that – while we have a legal right to protect ourselves – we have no legal right to protect fragile egos. And an inability to control anger will bring severe consequences.

As has been said before, “Self-defence starts with defence against the self”. If you are quick to anger, and can’t rise above perceived slights or insults, then very bad things can happen to you and those around you.

All the best,