A law student has been sentenced to prison for six years after an attack in Newport left a man dead.

Ryan Cooper, a 21 year old student studying law at Southampton University, was sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter at Winchester Crown Court this afternoon (Wednesday).

Gary ‘Jeff’ Stacey, 49, died following the ‘one punch’ attack around 4am on St James Street, Newport in February 2016. He died the following day.

Gary 'Jeff' Stacey
Gary ‘Jeff’ Stacey

Mr Cooper, originally from the Isle of Wight, but was living in from Southampton, was charged with one count of manslaughter.

He denied the charge and the trial at Winchester Crown Court began last month.

Mr Cooper was sentenced this afternoon (Wednesday) to six years for manslaughter.

Gary Stacey’s family said:

“Gary was a loving father and dedicated family man. We were denied the opportunity to celebrate his fiftieth birthday by the actions of Ryan Cooper and are pleased that this sentence has found justice for Gary.

“We’d like to thank the police officers and crown prosecution service who have worked on this case to ensure that this sentence was possible.”

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Liz Williams said:

“I’m pleased that this sentence will go some way towards providing closure to Gary Stacey’s family following his tragic death. They will now be able to move on with their lives in the knowledge that justice has been served.

“One fact that was never disputed in this case was that Cooper had punched Gary Stacey. The challenge for our investigation was to establish the motive behind the assault. This is sadly yet another reminder that one punch can kill and that alcohol related violence can have devastating consequences. I’d urge anyone on a night out to know their limits and enjoy a safe and enjoyable evening without it ending in tragedy.”

Isle of Wight based Inspector Andy McDonald added:

“Alcohol related violence is something a number of agencies on the Isle of Wight have been addressing. Volunteers like Street Pastors provide additional pastoral care for vulnerable people and a range of prevention and intervention strategies have been trialled and implemented in conjunction with licensed premises themselves. These include practices and techniques adopted by licensees and door supervisors. The adoption of banning patrons, using plastic glasses instead of glass and pub watch initiatives have helped to reduce issues in relation to alcohol. Hampshire Constabulary has also implemented specific patrols in relevant areas, continues to carry out test purchasing operations, and is engaging with individuals who have been identified as part of our work in this area.”

John Montague, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said:

“Ryan Cooper claimed that he punched Mr. Stacey in self-defence, but having reviewed all of the evidence in what was an extremely thorough investigation by the police, I was not satisfied that this was the case.

“The enhanced CCTV was key evidence used by the prosecution to show the jury that Ryan Cooper had left the scene of the altercation, only to return moments later and attack Mr. Stacey.

“I would like to thank the prosecution team for putting together a strong case that convinced the jury that Ryan Cooper unlawfully killed Mr. Stacey in February of last year.   My thoughts are with the family of Mr. Stacey at this painful and distressing time.”