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A man choked his friend to death during a scuffle in the woods before jumping on his corpse.
Terry Fryatt panicked after knocking his friend Philip Barry out, telling his own father: "Oh f*** I think I’ve killed him. I don’t know what to do," a court heard.
Fryatt also told a passerby in the wooded area in Hertford "My mate’s dead," the Hertfordshire Mercury reports.
When police arrived at the scene, he became emotional and aggressive – even jumping on the body of his dead friend.
Fryatt had at first acted in self defence as he grabbed his drinking pal around his neck to stop him coming at him.
But in holding on too long and applying too much force Fryatt was found to have acted unlawfully.
His friend collapsed and died and a post-mortem revealed the cause of 28-year-old Mr Barry’s death as "compression of the neck".
St Albans Crown Court heard today that Mr Barry had suffered major damage to his voice box causing bruising and fractures in the area of his thyroid.
Fryatt, 30, appeared in custody at the court to plead guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Barry on the evening of May 26 this year in a wooded area in Hertford.
Prosecutor Alan Blake told the court how the deceased man was known in the area as “Hackney Phil” and lived in supported accommodation.
The court was told he had a number of issues including schizophrenia for which he was on medication.
He was also known to drink and take illicit drugs.
Mr Blake said the defendant also lived locally with his father Tim Fryatt in Hertford.
He was also known to drink and take illegal drugs and the court was told how in the weeks leading up to Mr Barry’s death the two men spent a good deal of their time in each other’s company.
Judge Michael Kay QC, hearing the case, was told how on the morning of May 26 the pair were drinking at the home of a mutual friend.
By 4pm that afternoon they were in the grounds of Hertford Castle drinking with a group of friends.
Mr Blake said while Mr Barry was at a nearby off licence getting more beer, the defendant was heard to tell a woman who was part of the group that he was “f***ing p***ed off” with him and wanted to hit him because he never had any money for alcohol.
He told the woman: “He’s lucky he’s your mate.”
The court then heard how just before 8.45pm that evening the two men were in a wooded area.
The prosecutor said it was not known if they were making their way together to Mr Barry’s home nearby or had gone into the trees to continue drinking.
Judge Kay was told it was up a steep embankment and through a gap in a fence that Mr Barry’s body was discovered lying in undergrowth later that evening by police.
Mr Blake said at 8.46pm that evening the defendant called his father.
He was clearly panicking and told him: “I have knocked him out and he is not responding.”
Mr Blake went on to say “he was asking his father to come to him in the woods” which he said the older man refused to do.
Two minutes later he sent a text message to a friend saying: “Please call me – I’ve killed Phil.”
Not long afterwards Fryatt left the woods and made his way to his home where he told his father: “Oh f*** I think I’ve killed him. I don’t know what to do.”
Mr Blake said with that the defendant ran back to the wooded area only to make his way back to his home for a second time where he told his dad: “Yeah, 100 per cent.”
Back in the area of the woods minutes later he told a man: “My mate’s dead.”
It was around 9.35pm that night when Fryatt called the police from a local corner shop.
When the shopkeeper asked him why he had done it, Fryatt replied: “He pushed me.”
The court was told when officers arrived on the scene Fryatt led them to the spot where Mr Barry lay dead.
Mr Blake said at that point he became “emotional and aggressive” even jumping on the body of the dead man until he was pulled away by the officers.
That evening he was taken to Welwyn Garden Police station and in an interview the next day handed over a prepared statement in which he said his friend had become angry when he would not buy him any more beer.
He said as he tried to restrain him Mr Barry had suddenly gone limp and he had tried chest compression to try and revive him.
Fryatt ended the statement by saying at no time had he intended to harm the other man but had tried to protect himself by restraining him.
The court was told when a post mortem was carried out the cause of death was established as “compression of the neck”.
Mr Blake said there had been bruising on the muscles in the neck and in the area of the thyroid there were fractures of two structures known as the “superior horns”.
The injuries were consistent with a head lock being applied around the neck and the force needed to cause the fractures would have been “moderate to more than moderate”.
Graham Trembath QC, defending, said: “This is a tragic case. Had these two men not been drinking and taking drugs, the likelihood is we would not be here today.”
He said his client’s case was that it was the other man who became aggressive when told he wouldn’t be getting any more alcohol.
Mr Trembath said it was Fryatt who became concerned for his own safety and welfare and had tried to restrain him by putting an arm around the other man’s neck and another around his waist.
He described it as a “classic” restraining method but he said Fryatt recognised there came a point when he should have released his hold and hadn’t with the result that Mr Barry had died.
Mr Trembath said Fryatt hadn’t tried to “walk away” that night and leave Mr Barry in the woods.
Passing sentence Judge Michael Kay QC it was accepted now that Fryatt had held on to Mr Barry for too long as he tried to restrain him.
“Choking the deceased” he said, carried with it a high risk of harm which should have been evident to him.
He told Fryatt he had a “very significant” criminal history chalking up 34 convictions for 88 offences.
Fryatt was jailed for five and a half years.
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