Family's anger over manslaughter sentencing

This Is Wiltshire: Richard Elmes arriving at court today Richard Elmes arriving at court today

The family of Trowbridge builder Adrian Cooksey reacted with disappointment on hearing the sentence of his killer Richard Elmes at Bristol Crown Court today.

Elmes, 51, of Semington Road, Melksham, received 42 months' imprisonment for the manslaughter of his friend and a further 20 months for committing perjury on the first day of the trial earlier this year - a total of five years and two months, of which he will serve half before release on licence.

Judge Neil Ford said: "You are clearly a dedicated husband, dedicated father, someone who acts with kindness and care to others.

"Your imprisonment will cause great distress to your family members and friends but you have taken the life of a greatly loved and admired man and in so doing inflicted the greatest distress and loss, exacerbated by many years of not knowing the identity of the assailant, in no small part attributable to your lies."

Mr Cooksey was killed during a drunken argument in Spa Road, Melksham, in March 2009 in which Elmes, an old friend, punched him, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head.

Elmes later lied about his recollection of the incident, first to police, then at the initial trial of Thomas Minshull, who was acquitted, and also on the first day of his trial earlier this year.

Mr Cooksey's family left the court unhappy at the length of sentence and in a brief statement, son Adam said: "Our family has been dealt a life sentence by this man. Whatever sentence passed would never be enough to satisfy us.

"Richard Elmes has continued to lie and avoid the truth. This was supposed to be our dad's friend.

"It has now been clarified that he punched our dad to the ground and left him lying there. How anyone can live with this and continue to lie to save their own skin deserves to have the key thrown away."

DCI Ian Saunders of Wiltshire Police, who led the investigation, said: "I am very pleased at the outcome. This has been a long investigation, my team has worked very hard, and very thoroughly and I thought it was the right result for the family.

"Mr Elmes is a good family man but when under the influence of drink, he became an aggressive, violent man, who lied to protect himself rather than face the conseuquences of what he did.

"This changed the direction of the police investigation, leading to the trial of an innocent man."

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