Coroner asks police to re-open case of Sheffield man who was ‘unlawfully killed’ after single punch

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  • Sheffield man died after a single punch outside city centre bar
  • Inquest jury found that Jon-Paul Smith was ‘unlawfully killed’
  • Earlier discharge from mental health ward was ‘not appropriate’

Police have been told to re-investigate the death of a Sheffield man after a jury ruled he had been unlawfully killed following a punch outside a bar in the city centre.

Jon-Paul Smith, aged 42, of St George’s Close, Netherthorpe, was attacked outside Melt bar on West Street in Sheffield city centre around 11.50pm on September 5, 2014. He died the next day in hospital.

The inquest at Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Smith, who was originally from Liverpool but had lived in Sheffield for 20 years, developed mental health issues.

Mr Smith was sectioned under the Mental Health Act on June 3, 2014 and was treated on the Maple ward at Northern General Hospital.

The inquest heard his family were ‘shocked’ when he was discharged on August 6, as they had seen him the previous day and described his behaviour as ‘erratic’.

Jon-Paul’s family told the jury at the inquest that he ‘should never have been discharged’ and there were many ‘missed opportunities’ to re-admit him.

The jury found failures by NHS staff and South Yorkshire Police in assisting with his return to hospital and on his original discharge from the mental health ward.

They stated a ‘lack of workable protocol’ and ‘miscommunication’ between the police and community health staff, resulting in Jon-Paul not being tkane back to hospital.

The jury found that Jon-Paul’s discharge was ‘not appropriate’ and added there was a ‘lack of clarity’ around the discharge meeting, plus a ‘lack of involvement with the family despite them insisting they wanted to be involved.

The nine jurors also dismissed ‘self defence’ as a reason for the assault of Mr Smith and said that ‘unreasonable force was used.’

Sheffield Assistant deputy coroner, David Urpeth, said: “Jon-Paul was a vulnerable individual and he has been let down by the system.

“It was clear to me he did not have the help and support that he needed from health professionals and the police.

“It is clear that if he had this support then he would not have died in this way.

“This is a tragedy for Jon-Paul, his family and for society as a whole and he was let down by organisations that were there to help him.

“This case demonstrates the fatal consequences from just one punch and I hope that people who hear or read about this case will pause for thought before they intend to punch anyone.”