Man who stabbed person to death cleared of murder

Forensics and police at the scene of an alleged murder in Sutton Heath, SuffolkImage source, Guy Campbell/BBC
Image caption,

The emergency services were called just before 21:00 BST on 8 October

  • Published

A man who stabbed another man to death in a front garden following a dispute over a romantic affair has been cleared of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter.

Richard Hunt, 37, from Ipswich, suffered fatal stab wounds to the heart and lungs at the Sutton Heath estate near Woodbridge, Suffolk, on 8 October.

Jay Cotterill, 43, of Ipswich Avenue, Sutton Heath, was charged with murder and pleaded not guilty. In the lead up to the fatal altercation, the victim turned up on Cotterill's doorstep with a baseball bat, and the pair had a fight.

After a four week trial at Ipswich Crown Court, Cotterill was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and will be sentenced on 9 August.

Cotterill was also cleared of a charge of assault causing actual bodily harm against Mr Hunt’s ex-partner, who was also present that night.

Emergency services were called to the incident at about 21:00 but Mr Hunt died at the scene.

A post-mortem examination concluded he sustained seven stab wounds and two of these - to the heart and left lung – had proved fatal.

Image source, Guy Campbell/BBC
Image caption,

Mr Hunt banged on Cotterill's windows with the bat before the fight, jurors were told

During the trial the court heard Cotterill and Hunt were known to each other, having both had relationships with the same woman.

Mr Hunt had been in a longer-term relationship with her for about seven years - ending in about 2016.

Her relationship with Cotterill, which was an affair as he was in a long term relationship, had been more recent, beginning in about May 2023 and ending shortly before the events of 8 October.

The trial heard that Cotterill’s partner discovered messages on his mobile phone from the woman and both women "traded insults" on the phone.

Further messages were exchanged on social media between Cotterill and his partner, and Mr Hunt and his ex-girlfriend.

On the night of the killing, Mr Hunt had driven his ex-partner to Cotterill’s home, where she intended to deliver a "good luck" card to Cotterill and his girlfriend.

Police said the pair pinned the card to Cotterill’s door and then Mr Hunt began banging on the front windows with a baseball bat.

Cotterill came out, and the pair fought, during which time Cotterill was hit in the face, but got hold of the bat and hit both Mr Hunt and his ex-partner.

Cotterill went back inside, armed himself with a large kitchen knife and Mr Hunt sustained the stab wounds that killed him.

He surrendered to police and was charged with murder.

Police said the prosecution claimed the action Cotterill chose to take went far beyond what was reasonable in the circumstances of this case.

However, the jury found him not guilty of murder, instead convicting him of the alternative offence of manslaughter.

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