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Gerald Philpott not guilty of manslaughter after killing Steve Holton with one punch at Folkestone Harbour

By Paul Hooper

A man has been cleared of killing a stranger with a single punch in an early morning row.

Gerald Philpott threw the blow after a brief argument with the man near a nightclub in Folkestone.

But now a jury at Canterbury Crown Court has decided the 29 year old had acted in self-defence.

The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman
The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman

Philpott, who denied manslaughter, was taken away in tears through a side entrance after the verdict was given.

He told how in the early hours of the morning he came across Steve Hilton, from Dover, and the two confronted each other.

“I was singing a Jason Derulo song and was told to shut up. The man sounded as if he was pee-ed off. I told him to leave it out as I was having a good night.”

Philpott alleged 20-stone Mr Holton, 54, told him: “Who are you talking to? I’m a traveller” and the two clashed.

He claimed Mr Hilton “took one step towards me, then another step and was in front of me".

The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman
The scene of Steve Holton's death last year. Picture: Tony Flashman

He said: “I took half a step back and said that I didn’t want trouble. He walked towards me and looked angry. He was just edging forward.

“I felt scared and threw a punch," added the 5ft 7 in 12 stone Philpott.

After the incident he claimed he panicked and ran away, telling the jury: “I was drunk. It was dark. I was scared.”

Philpott said that he looked around and saw Mr Holton on the floor: “I swear I saw his arm move.”

He learnt of the death hours later, telling the jury: “I cried. I went to visit my sister and told her what had happened. I was pretty hysterical.”

After going to a police station he answered police questions but refused to take part in a second interview.

He added: “I was physically and emotionally drained. I was broken."

Judge Heather Norton warned Philpott that it was not the first time violence had led him into court.

She said: “Let this be an end.”

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