‘Jealous’ Luton boyfriend struck fatal punch at Dunstable nightclub court hears

Luton Crown Court
Luton Crown Court

A clubber who had been flirting with a barmaid at a Dunstable nightclub was killed by a single punch from her boyfriend, a jury heard today.

Tomas Juska, 24, was “poleaxed” outside Cookies in Dunstable by Cortney Batchelor of Paisley Close, Luton, who had allegedly said: “I am going to smash him.”

The Lithuanian man, who worked for Amazon, suffered a lethal brain injury and died the following day, Luton Crown Court was told.

Cortney Batchelor, now 22, pleads not guilty to manslaughter, saying he acted in self-defence.

Prosecutor Michael Speak said Mr Juska and work colleagues were having a night out in the club in the early hours of Sunday August 23 last year. Mr Batchelor, who did not know Mr Juska, was also in the club with friends while his girlfriend Sarah Haynes was working behind the bar.

He said Mr Juska had a fair amount to drink and had no idea that Sarah Haynes was the defendant’s girlfriend.

The prosecutor said: “Mr Juska took an interest in Sarah Haynes and flirted with her. It seems Mr Batchelor was nearby and noticed he was paying attention to her. He took exception and did not want Mr Juska flirting with his girlfriend. It annoyed him.”

Mr Juska was seen to give Ms Haynes his phone number.

Door staff noticed there was ‘friction’ between the two men and, as a result, Mr Juska was told to leave.

A minute and a half later, at about a quarter past three in the morning, Cortney Batchelor also left.

The door staff could see Mr Juska was still outside and they tried to get the defendant to leave the area. Batchelor was heard to call Mr Juska a “Dickhead” and said: “I am going to smash him.”

The prosecutor said when the door staff went to deal with another incident, Batchelor confronted Mr Juska.

Mr Speak said: “The defendant took the opportunity to confront Mr Juska. He was not looking for a fight and was forced into it. People remember him not behaving in a threatening way. His hands were at his sides.

“Quite unexpectedly, and the crown say for no good reason, the defendant punched Mr Juska.

“He hit him on the left side of the face, hard enough to knock Mr Juska over. He went down to the ground. Some felt the blow had been so hard that he wasn’t conscious as he fell. He was poleaxed. As we went to the ground, he did not do anything to break his fall.

“The tragedy is that Mr Juska hit the back of his head on the ground and that impact caused him to sustain a lethal brain injury from which he never recovered and he died the following day. He had been on life support in hospital, but despite the efforts of doctors, there was nothing they could do to save his life.”

He had hit his head on concrete or on a drain, it was said.

Mr Speak said the charge is one of manslaughter, not murder, because when Cortney Batchelor punched Mr Juska he did not intend to kill him or cause him really serious harm.

When questioned, Cortney Batchelor said he left the club to get a taxi and walked past Mr Juska. He said Mr Juska said: “Do you want to fight me?” over and over again. He told the police he made a pre-emptive strike, said Mr Speak.

Case proceeding