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Pair admit manslaughter over neighbour dispute death

Two men pleaded guilty today to the manslaughter of a father of six who was attacked outside his home after a dispute between neighbours.

Paul Hopkins, 32, suffered serious head injuries in the assault in Beecholme Drive, Kennington, near Ashford, Kent, on August 2 last year. He spent nearly four months in a coma before he died in hospital on November 23.

Christopher Goldfinch, of Falcon Way, Ashford, and Scott Stevens, of Augustus Walk, Ashford, both 23, were due to go on trial at Maidstone Crown Court today charged with murder.

However, they both entered guilty pleas to Mr Hopkins's manslaughter, prompting prosecutor Anthony Prosser to say he would not be offering any evidence in relation to the murder charge.

Mr Prosser told Judge Andrew Patience that no weapons were used in the attack and his injuries were mainly caused by punches to the head.

The row is believed to have erupted after Mr Hopkins's children were playing and a neighbour went round to ask them to keep the noise down.

The court was told that Goldfinch, who was a student at the time of the attack, was once cautioned for common assault in relation to his girlfriend.

Ground worker Stevens has no previous convictions.

The pair were originally charged with grievous bodily harm but this was changed to murder after Mr Hopkins's death, which both men denied.

Judge Patience remanded them in custody while pre-sentence reports are carried out and ordered that they return for sentencing at the same court on a date to be fixed in June or July.