Thug gets unpaid work after punching ex-squaddie who later died after further fracas

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A thug has been given a community order after he punched a former soldier just moments before his friend landed the ill-fated blow that led to the ex-squaddie’s death.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard during sentencing on Wednesday, September 27, how James Wisternoff, 25, of Church Street North, Old Whittington, Chesterfield, was found guilty of assaulting Chris Henchliffe by beating after a trial.

Deceased former soldier Chris Henchliffe.

Deceased former soldier Chris Henchliffe.

Wisternoff admitted throwing two punches at Mr Henchliffe – one of which connected – outside the Pomegranate Theatre in Corporation Street, Chesterfield, during the early hours of July 3, last year, but he claimed he had acted in self-defence and denied committing an assault.

However, District Judge Andrew Davison found Wisternoff guilty of the assault after a magistrates’ court trial on Tuesday, September 26, and he has been sentenced to a 12 month community order with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 120 hours of unpaid work.

A previous court hearing heard how seconds after Wisternoff assaulted Mr Henchliffe, the defendant’s friend Benjamin Edwards, 23, formerly of Fieldview Place, Chesterfield, threw a punch at Mr Henchliffe who fell heavily and suffered a catastrophic head injury.

Mr Henchliffe, a 26-year-old father-of-one, of Maynard Close, Chesterfield, died in hospital nine days later and Edwards was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for five-and-a-half-years after a Nottingham Crown Court trial in May.

The magistrates’ court trial heard that a bouncer had asked Mr Henchliffe to leave the Moo Bar in Corporation Street for allegedly spilling a drink on Wisternoff’s sister and one of his friends.

George Speed, prosecuting, said: “Mr Henchliffe went across the road. At that stage, Wisternoff decided to approach him and ask him about what had happened.

“In essence, Wisternoff struck two blows towards Mr Henchliffe. He turned away and one of the door staff took hold of Wisternoff and moved him in the opposite direction.

“Mr Henchliffe made the unfortunate decision to go and challenge Wisternoff. As he went towards Wisternoff, Edwards got involved.”

Mr Speed added that Wisternoff had acted in “aggression”.

Wisternoff claimed Henchliffe was being aggressive and threatening and the defendant said he feared that either himself or his sister would be assaulted.

The defendant accepted he had thrown two punches - one of which connected - and said he could have walked away from the situation.

Wisternoff was also ordered to pay £620 legal costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Edwards, who has argued he threw a punch at Mr Henchliffe as he feared he was going to harm Wisternoff, has lodged an appeal against his conviction.