A football agent and his friend have been convicted of the manslaughter of a newly married policeman who was delivered a fatal "piledriver" punch during a Christmas night out that left him lying in a city centre gutter.
Football consultant Andrew Taylor, 29, and sports event manager Timmy Donovan, 30, were found guilty of the manslaughter of Pc Neil Doyle by joint enterprise after they went "out of their way" to get into a fight with three off-duty policemen in Liverpool centre.
The friends had each denied striking Pc Doyle, 36, who was punched twice before staggering across the street after Taylor "baited" him for a fight around 3 am on December 19, 2014.
Taylor and Donovan had been on trial for the murder of Pc Doyle but were acquitted of that charge. They were unanimously convicted of the alternative charge of manslaughter by the jury which deliberated for just over 17 hours.
Pc Doyle and his colleagues Robert Marshall and Michael Steventon had been out for their Eaton Road police station Christmas party when they came across Taylor before coming under attack.
Taylor, a £40,000 football consultant for the Wasserman Media Group, had been described as acting in a "disinhibited and anti-social way" prior to the attack whilst Donovan was said to have been "bouncing around like a boxer in the ring".
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Taylor had taken issue with Pc Doyle as he made his way to another bar, asking him directly and in an "unsettling" manner, "are you having a good evening officer?" - yet claiming to not know he was in the force.
Despite being told to go away, Taylor declined, repeating the word "officer" and saying "that's not very nice, officer".
After following the officers into Colquitt Street the street attack took place outside the Aloha Bar killing Pc Doyle and injuring his colleagues, part of which was captured on CCTV and showed Pc Marshall being kicked and punched.
The defendants claimed they had been acting in self-defence in the belief that they were coming under attack from the officers.
The jury of six men and six women in the five week trial unanimously found them both guilty of wounding with intent to Pc Doyle's colleague Pc Marshall.
Taylor was also unanimously found guilty of grievous body harm with intent to Pc Michael Steventon who suffered a fractured cheekbone. Donovan was cleared of the same charge and an alternative of inflicting GBH.
Their co-defendant, ex-professional footballer for North Carolina Wilmington Hammerheads, Christopher Spendlove, 30, who was also present and "froze with fear", was acquitted by the jury of murder and an alternative of manslaughter by joint enterprise.
He was also acquitted of wounding with intent and wounding to Robert Marshall, and cleared of grievous body harm with intent and an alternative count of inflicting GBH in relation to Michael Steventon.
The defendants, who all knew each other through the semi-professional football scene, had been drinking in the city bars celebrating Mr Spendlove's 30th birthday.
Following the attack, Taylor, went on to tell his co-accused that he had "knocked the big fella out" as they made their way to another bar.
The blow to Pc Doyle's neck ruptured his vertebral artery and resulted in bleeding on the brain. A post-mortem revealed that he did not have any injuries to his hands.
The following day Taylor, who like Mr Spendlove had received a scholarship in America to study and play football at the Oklahoma City University, admitted hitting Pc Doyle on the chin "as hard as he could" and had known that he had knocked him out, because he "saw the fella's legs go under him".
He admitted striking Pc Doyle to police after walking into a police station but later said he had been mistaken as to which officer he had hit and had only struck out in self-defence.
It was the prosecution's case that Taylor delivered the "piledriver" punch and his co-defendant, Donovan, who was extradited after fleeing to Germany for a month, had acted in joint enterprise.
Prosecutor Mr Nicholas Johnson QC said the defendants had been "determined to get involved in a physical confrontation" and that it had been "one-way traffic".
Donovan, who pleaded guilty to wounding Pc Marshall, told the court that he believed Taylor had hit Pc Doyle whilst Mr Spendlove said he heard Taylor say to Pc Doyle "let's go round the corner".
Donovan was heard to say to the officers: "I told you not to front me - I gave you the chance to walk away and you didn't listen."