A young soldier admitted yesterday that he killed a black railway worker who was beaten to death in the car park of a Wiltshire nightclub.
Private Wayne King, 20, pleaded guilty to the man-slaughter of Glyne Agard, 34, and seriously injuring his friend, Gary Belgrave, outside the Reflections Club in Westbury, on 18 June last year.
Three black men from Reading had travelled to Westbury "for a good night out" after watching England's footballers defeat Germany in the European Championship. They were attacked by a group of soldiers from the Green Howards regiment. Mr Agard was punched, kicked and head-butted, Bristol Crown Court was told.
A second soldier, Private Thomas Myers, 20, admitted affray and assault causing actual bodily harm to Glyne's brother, Stephen.
The sudden conclusion of the trial prompted an angry response from the family of the dead man, who said he had been murdered. Alan Alie, a family friend, read a statement on behalf of Glyne's mother, Velma, and father, Randolph. "The family of Stephen and Glyne Agard are angry and dismayed at the outcome of this case. We feel that justice has not been done. We feel that questions have to be answered. Glyne came to Wiltshire for a night out with family and friends, and his life has ended in tragedy. He was murdered."
Both soldiers had originally been charged with murder but the judge, Mr Justice Steel, directed the jury to acquit Myers of murder and to accept the alternative plea by King to manslaughter. Two other soldiers Private Marc Hunter, 18, and Lance Corporal David White, 23 had earlier been acquitted of murder and of violent disorder.
The court was told that King, from Middlesbrough, admitted starting the fight by head-butting and punching Glyne Agard. The jury was shown CCTV footage of the incident, which began in the nightclub car park after a 17-year-old woman told the soldiers she had been attacked by a black man.
One of the doormen told the jury he heard Myers shout: "We'll give the black bastards a good kicking." After a verbal confrontation, the three black men were shown being attacked by a number of people.
John Royce QC, for the prosecution, said Stephen Agard was close to losing consciousness after the attack and that Mr Belgrave also suffered a number of injuries. He said it was a "vicious attack on three men who had merely come out for a good night out".
Myers, of Hartlepool, admitted punching Stephen Agard. He said he thought he was going to be attacked. He denied attacking Glyne Agard. Mr Royce told the jury that the prosecution had been approached by defence counsel. The guilty pleas had been offered and accepted. He said: "The prosecution has reached this position without enthusiasm, but mindful of the considerable legal and factual difficulties in this case."
Michael Birnbaum QC, representing King, told the court: "He feels a profound sense of moral responsibility for what went on. Probably none of this would have happened if not for his foolish and irrational attack on Glyne Agard."
The judge adjourned sentencing to a later date to allow pre-sentence reports to be prepared.