Inquest Into Soldier Death In Portsmouth

A coroner's recorded an open verdict in the inquest of a soldier who died after he was punched to the ground on a night out in Portsmouth.

Private Matt Brooks, from Trowbridge, suffered a fractured skull and died five days after the incident in a car park near the Yates's bar in Portsmouth on May 13, 2010.

Dean Aldcroft, 22, of Warwick Crescent, Portsmouth, Hampshire, was arrested and charged with his manslaughter, but the charge was later dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) because of insufficient evidence.

Keith Wiseman, coroner for Southampton, said that he was only able to record an open verdict as there was no CCTV footage or reliable evidence for the moment when Pte Brooks was hit.

He said: "The crucial few seconds of critical evidence as to what occurred is missing and has obviously led to enormous frustration and indeed anger on the part of the family."

He said that CCTV footage appeared to show Pte Brooks and his friends meeting up with Mr Aldcroft and his friends in the car park, apparently for a fight.

He said that the evidence given to the inquest in Southampton suggested Pte Brooks and Mr Aldcroft 'squared up' to each other before the fatal blow was struck.

Mr Wiseman said that he sympathised with Pte Brooks' family's anger at the decision of the CPS not to bring the case to court.
He added: "I would like to express my very sincere condolences to the family in relation to such a sad loss.

"It is not a matter they will ever really be able to get over in any event but having a burning sense of injustice alongside it will, I know, make the future very hard to bear."