Brian Holmes had just been given the all clear from cancer when he was tragically killed in a needless act of violence.
He and his wife had been out shopping on a normal sunny Saturday afternoon. It was just an ordinary day, spent doing typical run of the mill things, free from the cloud of cancer.
You don’t expect someone to die during a trip to the supermarket – especially not over a parking space.
Brian’s wife, Christine, is registered disabled and a blue badge holder. She parked in a disabled bay outside Asda in Biggleswade. Before going in to these supermarket, Brian returned to the car to put something in the boot.
As he was walking away from the car he was approached by Alan Watts, then 65, who challenged him over the parking in the disabled space. Watts then punched Brian, causing him to fall to the ground and sustain sadly fatal injuries.
Investigations such as this are difficult for several reasons. Watts was charged with manslaughter – he didn’t set out with the intention of killing anybody that day, but sadly he did.
In that moment when he unleashed his anger on Brian, he not only took the life of someone and devastated a family; he also changed the course of his own life.
Watts pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, forcing Brian’s family and loved ones to sit through a trial.
No matter how strong you believe your case to be, how much work has gone in to the investigation, you still get nervous as you hope for the right verdict for the family.
When you’ve been with a case from the beginning, it’s hard not to get involved with the family. You see the despair and grief they’re going through because their loved one is no longer with them, and the importance of getting justice.
Watts used the argument of self-defence in the case but the evidence we presented showed otherwise and he was found guilty.
Nothing will ever change the traumatic events of that day, but you hope it provides some some form of closure in relation to the incident.
Brian was a really private individual so for the family to agree to feature in the One Punch documentary was a big step, but they wanted Brian’s voice heard.
Cases like this are a stark reminder of how just one moment of madness can impact on so many different people and why it is important to think before you speak and before you act.
There is nothing worth losing your liberty for, certainly not someone challenging somebodies right to park in a disabled parking space, and I think it should also be noted that disabilities are not always visible.
Christine lost her husband, Brian’s children lost a father, and his grandchildren will grow up without their grandfather – all because of someone’s belief about rights to parking.
That’s the most tragic part about every case that featured in the ‘One Killer Punch’ documentary – none of these deaths ever needed to happen and I hope that it will help to prevent any more mindless deaths.
In the build up to the Christmas period when tensions are heightened and especially when alcohol is involved, we do sadly see violence increase.
I hope the programme makes everyone think twice before lashing out – it’s never worth it.
Detective Superintendent Liz Mead led the investigation into the death of Brian Holmes, which was featured in Cutting Edge documentary ‘One Killer Punch’ on Channel 4 on Tuesday 22 November.
The documentary is available to watch on catch up.