Dance floor murderer kicked victim in head 'like a goalkeeper' in Wakefield nightclub attack

Phillip Snowden died seven years after suffering "catastrophic" injuries in nightclub dance floor attack by Adam Smith
Phillip Snowden died seven years after suffering "catastrophic" injuries in nightclub dance floor attack by Adam Smith
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A man has been jailed for murder almost nine years after carrying out an horrific drink-fuelled nightclub attack on his victim.

Adam Smith was given a life sentence and told he must serve a minimum of six years, seven months over the death of Phillip Snowden.

Adam Smith was sent back to jail for murder over the fatal attack on Phillip Snowden

Adam Smith was sent back to jail for murder over the fatal attack on Phillip Snowden

Smith, now 32, launched the unprovoked violence on Mr Snowden on the dance floor in the former Mustang Sally's club, in Wakefield, on October 17, 2010.

Mr Snowden was left severely disabled after being punched by Smith around eight times then kicked in the face.

A witness to the attack described the kick as "like a goalkeeper trying to kick the ball over the halfway line."

Mr Snowden, 33, a welder fabricator from Pontefract, suffered devastating injuries including brain damage and a fractured vertebra, leaving him needing care for the rest of his life.

The brutal fatal attack on Phillip Snowden took place in the former Mustang Sally's nightclub, Westgate, Wakefield, in October 2010

The brutal fatal attack on Phillip Snowden took place in the former Mustang Sally's nightclub, Westgate, Wakefield, in October 2010

Smith was originally sentenced to nine years, four months, in November 2011 after pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He was then charged with murder when Mr Snowden died after suffering an infection as a result of his injuries on July 13, 2017.

Mr Snowden's widow, Lisa, attended Leeds Crown Court today to see Smith sentenced for the second time over the attack on her late husband.

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Phillip Snowden, known as 'Big Phil', had been out celebrating plans for a new life in Canada with wife Lisa when he was murdered

Phillip Snowden, known as 'Big Phil', had been out celebrating plans for a new life in Canada with wife Lisa when he was murdered

A victim statement was read to the court on her behalf by prosecutor Richard Wright, QC.

She described how she had spent years caring for her husband after he suffered the catastrophic injuries.

She said: "I want you to imagine the knock on the door in the early hours of the morning and going to hospital.

"I want you to imagine being told that the person you love most in the world has 20 minutes to live."

Phillip Snowden was punched repeatedly and kicked in the head by Adam Smith on the dance floor at Mustang Sally's nightclub in Wakefield

Phillip Snowden was punched repeatedly and kicked in the head by Adam Smith on the dance floor at Mustang Sally's nightclub in Wakefield

Mrs Snowden described how she changed her job to work as an NHS physiotherapist in order to help with her husband's treatment.

She added: "I had nearly nine years to grieve for the man Phil was.

"Phil never gave up and nor did I."

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A statement was also read out on behalf of Mr Snowden's father, Frank, who did not attend court.

He said: "I do not want to give the person responsible for taking my son any more time or thought.

Adam Smith was sentenced for the second time over the attack on Phillip Snowden

Adam Smith was sentenced for the second time over the attack on Phillip Snowden

"This will change nothing for us as a family.

"One of us will always be missing."

Describing the attack, Mr Wright said Smith had spent the day drinking with friends in Wakefield city centre before ending up in the nightclub in the early hours of the morning.

The group had been behaving badly, with Smith "stage diving" and becoming involved in minor violence.

Mr Snowden - who was nearly 7ft tall and known affectionately as 'Big Phil' - was out with friends celebrating the news that he and his wife had agreed to start a new life together in Canada.

Smith carried out the unprovoked attacked on Mr Snowden on the dancefloor.

He approached him with a bottle in his hand before punching him repeatedly.

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Mr Snowden tried to defend himself but collapsed to his knees and was the kicked in the face.

The prosecutor said: "It was deliberate. Very forceful and brutal."

Neurosurgeons had to carry out emergency surgery to relieve pressure on Mr Snowden's brain.

Mr Wright said: "While he survived his injuries, he remained in a minimally conscious state."

The court heard Mr Snowden was confined to a wheelchair, was unable to speak and had to be fed through a tube.

When questioned about the attack Smith said he could not recall the incident because he was so drunk.

Robin Freize, mitigating, said Smith had pleaded guilty to murder at an early stage after being contacted by police and informed of Mr Snowden's death.

Mr Freize said Smith had been a "model prisoner" while serving his earlier sentence for attacking Mr Snowden.

He added that Smith had got a job as soon as he was released from jail in 2016 and was now married.

Mr Freize said: "Nothing I can say is designed to diminish the horror of what he did."

The barrister added: "Everything that he has done since then has been characterised by his remorse and an attempt to redeem himself.

"He understands that that is little comfort to Mrs Snowden."

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Turner praised Mr Snowden's family for their dignity.

He said: "They are to be commended for the devotion that have shown to him over the years."

The judge told Smith his actions had led to Mr Snowden facing "prolonged suffering."

He added: "I accept that you are remorseful and have done a lot since your original conviction."

After the case, Detective Superintendent Jim Griffiths, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The savage assault by Smith in 2010 resulted in a trail of suffering for Mr Snowden and his family in the years that followed.

“The vicious attack on that night in Wakefield ultimately led to his death and today’s sentence is a direct consequence of those incomprehensible actions.

“Hopefully the outcome will offer some level of closure for what will understandably have been an extremely difficult journey.”

After her husband's death, Mrs Snowden launched a campaign called Justice of Big Phil, calling for ‘zero tolerance’ on drunken violence and stricter police powers to allow officers to close nightspots when trouble breaks out.