A TEENAGER has been given four years behind bars for the manslaughter of a 50-year-old man in a Redditch street.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, punched Nigel Shakespeare and knocked him to the ground. He died from a fractured skull.

Adam Haylor, of Astley Close, Redditch, was cleared of manslaughter by a jury but given 30 months in a young offenders institution after he was found guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm. His cousin, Colin Mahon, of Albert Road, Halesowen, was cleared of manslaughter by a jury at Worcester Crown Court.

The three were celebrating a friend's birthday in a summer house in the garden of Mahon's parents' home in Farm Road, Lakeside, Redditch, when shortly before midnight on February 23 last year, they decided to go into town.

When they reached the corner of Sillins Avenue, Nigel Shakespeare walked by with his partner Jacqueline Cull after an evening in the nearby Kings Arms pub.

Mr Shakespeare heard someone insult him and turned around and walked back to them, asking who had said it. The 17-year-old led him away to calm the situation down but then Mahon heard his friend shout "Col, he's hit me" the jury was told.

The teenager hit Mr Shakespeare in the face and knocked him down. Haylor was then seen to kick Mr Shakespeare in the head as he lay bleeding in the road.

Jonas Hankin, QC, defending the teenager, who was only 16 at the time, said he still claimed he had acted in self defence but had accepted responsibility for the death. Initially, he had tried to act as peacemaker and had led Mr Shakespeare away. But as a scuffle broke out between his friend Haylor and Jacqueline Cull, Mr Shakespeare tried to turn back and the teenager had seen him as a threat.

Mark Wall, defending Haylor, said he was only 17 at the time and his actions had not been responsible for the death. He said Haylor had been on bail in the south of England with his father and was continuing his education.

Judge Robert Juckes, QC, said there was nothing any court could do about the loss of Mr Shakespeare to his family and friends. He said the teenager had struck Mr Shakespeare an "astonishing blow" as he was much smaller.

It had fractured his cheekbone and his nose, concussing him and causing him to fall to the floor "like a stone." He said the teenager had been given extra confidence by drinking. The judge said he was satisfied Mr Shakespeare had not thrown a punch but had possibly pushed past to see what was happening with his partner and the teenager had chosen to react by hitting him.

"He did nothing to deserve the blow that was struck," the judge said.

Haylor's actions, he said, would have been "sickening"  to anyone who saw them. Mr Shakespeare was helpless on the floor and despite people around trying to protect him, Haylor had kicked him so hard it left an imprint on his face. He then tried to kick him again before running away.

Both defendants will have time spent on bail and on remand deducted from their sentences.