Men from Rye given eight years for Hastings manslaughter
Report from Sussex Police.
When brothers Brian and Andrew Hill went out together for their usual twice monthly drinks in their home town of Hastings, they didn’t know that evening would end in tragedy. Brian would end up with severe head injuries and pass away a few days later after being attacked by two young men.
Now read about the police investigation and how we traced the two men involved and brought them to justice for their involvement in Brian’s death.
What happened on 3 February 2017?
Brian, 60, from St Leonards, and his younger brother Andrew, 53, had been out in Hastings for a drink at French’s Bar in Robertson Street. They left the bar at 12.40am on Friday (February 3) and went to a fish and chip shop on the same road, while eating, they headed to the taxi rank on Havelock Road to go home.
It was there, at the taxi rank, they met Matthew Smith and Elliot Bourdon-Pierre, two young men from Rye, who had also been on a night out in Hastings. Smith insulted Andrew Hill commenting on his appearance, clearly wanted to start a fight with the two older men over the taxis.
Both men were attacked by Smith and Bourdon-Pierre and Brian was punched and fell to the pavement hitting his head.
Smith and Bourdon-Pierre left the scene doubling back to the train station taxi rank. Emergency services were called by other members of the public who saw the aftermath of the attack and went to help.
Brian was rushed to Royal Sussex County Hospital with serious head injuries. Andrew had serious injuries, including broken ribs and injuries to his lungs and kidneys and was taken to the Conquest Hospital to be treated.
Brian never regained consciousness and died at 1.30pm on Saturday (February 4). A post-mortem revealed he died from a brain injury after hitting the pavement.
Officers immediately started trying to piece together what had happened and who had been involved. They were able to find CCTV of the Hill brothers walking to get a taxi and the suspects on the same road, Havelock Road, where the attack had taken place.
The footage also showed the two suspects walking away after the attack. This enabled officers to identify them and trace them back to a nightclub in Robertson Street where they had been earlier. They were were identified using the ID they used to enter the club. Matthew Smith and Elliot Bourdon-Pierre were traced to Bourdon-Pierre’s home in Piltdown Close at 6am and arrested for grievous bodily harm.
When Brian died the following day they were further arrested for manslaughter.
With the two men arrested and bailed, officers began working on evidence to prove they were responsible for the attack which led to Brian’s death.
Officers used CCTV to begin to trace the movements of all four men during the evening and on interviewing all the suspects and Andrew, it became clear the unprovoked attack started as a result of Smith insulting Andrew and making threats towards him. Three taxi drivers parked in Havelock Road all witnessed punches being thrown.
From one of the taxis, officers were able to go through the in-car CCTV and were able to see the assault taking place outside. Although through a side window, it was key evidence for detectives to prove Bourdon-Pierre and Smith were involved in the attack and instigated it.
Smith admitted throwing the first punch but claimed self-defence as he feared for his safety as he claimed the Hill’s were much bigger than him. Smith threw the first punch striking Andrew, Bourdon-Pierre admitted punching Brian, missing the first time, hitting him the second attempt. CCTV would suggest in addition to Smith’s punch, Bourdon-Pierre threw multiple punches at both Hill brothers.
CCTV around the town traced Smith and Bourdon-Pierre leaving the scene and walking back down Havelock Road, then then turned left and left again onto Middle Street and picked up another taxi on Station Approach outside Hastings train station. They asked the taxi driver to take them back to Bourdon-Pierre’s home in Piltdown Close but requested he first drive back down Havelock Road rather than the quickest route on Devonshire Road.
This document shows the route taken by Smith and Bourdon-Pierre and the more direct route they could have taken.
Smith, in the front seat, is seen callously laughing as they pass the scene of the attack. on the taxi’s dash-cam recording as they drive past the scene twice.
With this evidence, detectives were able to charge them both with the manslaughter of Brian Hill and the grievous bodily harm of Andrew Hill in May this year.
Elliot Bourdon-Pierre, 25, of Udimore Road, Broad Oak, Rye and Matthew Smith, 22 of The Hawthornes, Broad Oak, Rye began their trial on Monday, November 13 at Lewes Crown Court.
The court heard Bourdon-Pierre and Smith claimed self-defence but the jury didn’t agree and found them both guilty of all charges on November 21.
They were sentenced to three years for the GBH and eight years for the manslaughter which will run concurrently.
Detective Inspector Duncan Elliott said: “This has been an extremely sad case to investigate. This involved two young men who went on a night out drinking. They came across two older men, the Hills, and carried out an unprovoked attack on them.
“The combination of alcohol and the pair looking for trouble, tragically ended in Brian losing his life and his brother Andrew suffering serious physical and mental injuries. The pair claimed self-defence but the jury saw through this after reviewing all the evidence.
“Nothing will bring Brian back to his family but thankfully Elliot Bourdon-Pierre and Matthew Smith have been held responsible for Brian’s death and the assault on Andrew.”
The Hill family
Brian and Andrew Hill
Brian’s three children paid tribute to their Dad.
“As a family we cannot express the heartache of losing Brian. He was a father of three and grandfather to four, who deeply miss him. He was very much a family man helping anyone he could whether it was advice, wise words or a shoulder to cry on. He was the father who would drop everything to help his family no matter where he was or what he was doing. The severity of his death has shocked the entire family to its core and it will be something we will never get over. We ask for privacy, as a family we are supporting each other through this extremely difficult time. Forever missed x”
Jane Hoad, Brian’s partner, said: “When I first met Brian it was his cheeky smile that made me melt, I felt so lucky to have been part of his life and I just wish it had been for longer. He was a caring, kind, loving man with such an amazing personality and when I was having a bad day he always made me smile. He was not just my partner, but also my best friend and there are no words that can express how much I miss him.”
Andrew spoke of the impact that the assault has had on his own life.
“It was so great to have Brian living so close, I had my brother and best friend with me all the time. Brian was a great person, he was never rude to anyone and I loved his company. My mental health has deteriorated since what happened and my injuries have meant that I am unable to carry out heavier tasks. I no longer trust anyone and I don’t go out. My thoughts on the world have changed now I have seen how people can behave towards others. I cannot believe that a night out could lead to my brother’s death and cannot believe that this has happened and find it impossible to process or understand it.”
Andrew and Brian’s brother and sister Rosemary and Chris added: “Brian was my older brother and was kind, generous and thoughtful. He had so much love to give he was the head of our family and we will all struggle without him in our lives. Our younger brother Andy who survive this terrible violent crime is still suffering side effects of the attack. We have mixed feelings over the result of court, justice has been done for Brian and Andy but it won’t bring Brian back.”
Rye’s Own Bulletin Thursday 23 December 2017