Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Drunk and Aggressive, the Man Who Started the Argument That Would Change Billy Close's Life for Ever; Suspended Sentence Handed to 20-Year-Old

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Drunk and Aggressive, the Man Who Started the Argument That Would Change Billy Close's Life for Ever; Suspended Sentence Handed to 20-Year-Old

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE DOUGHTY Crime Reporter sophie.doughty@trinitymirror.com

IT was one horrifying moment - and it has changed Billy Close's life forever.

Cowardly thug Jordan Cooper was caught on camera as he inflicted catastrophic head injuries on the teenager with a single unprovoked blow.

Billy was left fighting to survive after stranger Cooper attacked him from behind during a night out.

Cooper is already serving a twoand-a-half-year jail sentence for the assault, which left Billy with two dangerous holes in his skull.

It can now be revealed that a second assailant, James Widdowson, started off the chain of events that so nearly ended with Billy's death.

CCTV shows Widdowson pushing Billy after approaching him at a taxi rank in Newcastle city centre.

A man attempts to get Widdowson away from his victim, but fails. Then without warning, Cooper comes at Billy from the side and fells him with a single blow.

The victim can be seen lying out cold on the ground close to passing cars as a crowd gathered around him and attempted to pull him up.

Meanwhile, Widdowson is seen walking calmly but quickly away from the scene.

The 20-year-old admitted common assault at Newcastle Magistrates' Court last week. The court heard how he and Cooper ran into Billy at a taxi rank and Widdowson began arguing with him and pushed him before Cooper's punch.

In giving him a suspended prison sentence, District Judge Sarah-Jayne Griffith told him that if it had not been for his actions Billy would probably not have been seriously injured that night.

She said: "He starts off in motion the incident that someone else takes much further. Following this argument and this push, another male becomes involved and punches Mr Close, as a result of which he falls and hits his head and suffers significant injuries which at the time were life-threatening.

"They are very, very serious injuries, but you are not the person that caused those injuries. Your actions that night started what then resulted in Mr Close being punched and sustaining the injuries. I believe if it hadn't been for you starting that argument I don't suppose he would have been punched by the other person at all."

Billy, spent two weeks in a coma after the taxi rank attack, on February 28, which shattered his skull and caused a life-threatening bleed on his brain.

The 19-year-old had been out in Newcastle to celebrate his birthday when he encountered Cooper and Widdowson near the Dog and Parrot pub, on Clayton Street West.

Sue Baker, prosecuting, told how Widdowson became aggressive towards Billy before Cooper's attack.

"The CCTV shows he was being argumentative with Billy Close shouting; 'come on then'. It's shown on the CCTV that Billy Close does not retaliate at what's said," she explained. …

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