Man jailed for manslaughter after Halloween assault in Leigh-on-Sea

Mick Ferris
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The partner of a “loving and devoted father” who was fatally assaulted while trick-or-treating with his family in Leigh-on-Sea has thanked police after his attacker was jailed for his manslaughter.

Forty-three year-old Philip Mersh had been walking along Leigh Broadway at around 6pm on Halloween last year when he became involved in an altercation instigated by another man – Daniel Ballard.

Witnesses described how there was an altercation between the two before they separated and moved apart.

VICTIM: Philip Mersh

Philip was seen by witnesses to raise both hands with open palms indicating he was trying to appease Ballard and defuse the situation.

However, mixed martial arts fighter Ballard is then seen to move towards Philip and striking him twice to the face causing him to fall to the floor.

Officers established that Ballard, 31, of Lincoln Close, Southend, had fought three times as an amateur and three times as a professional.

Mr Mersh was taken to hospital with a serious head injury and died two days later.

Tests showed that the fatal injury was caused by Ballard’s punch rather than as a result of the impact of Philip’s head hitting the floor when he fell.

Ballard had initially been charged with GBH with intent but following Mr Mersh’s death a charge of murder was added to the indictment.

On May 25 at Southend Crown Court, Ballard pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Today (Wednesday July 20), he was sentenced to eight years in prison at the same court.

Mr Mersh’s partner Sarah said: “Firstly, I want to thank the members of the public that were there during the incident, especially the off-duty police officer who first realised the seriousness of Phil’s injuries and initiated CPR, and the member of the public who took the children into her home away from what was going on.

“Thank you to the paramedics and ambulance crew who did everything possible to help Phil and to keep him alive and to the hospital staff at the Royal London who did everything to make Phil comfortable.

“However, it was very quickly evident that his injuries were very serious, and he was unlikely to pull through.

“To the Essex Police investigation team, of which there were many officers who worked quickly and tirelessly in getting the evidence and witness together.

“To the prosecution team, for the hard work and hours were put in to ensure that justice has been done today.

“To the liaison officers, who have been our support and contact throughout this devastating time.  And to victim support, we thank you all very much.

“Phil was a loving and devoted father too his two sons who he adored, a caring son and brother and a wonderful partner and soul mate to his fiancée, Sarah.

“Phil’s motto was to live life to the full, enjoying every moment with family and friends and life will never be the same for everybody that he crossed paths with.

“Phil did not condone fighting and would protect anyone he loved from being harmed.

“Now it’s time for us as a family to try and rebuild our lives and bring up our loving sons”.

Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, who led the investigation, said: “Philip Mersh’s death was a needless tragedy that has left his family devastated.

“He had taken his children trick-or-treating when he was attacked by a man who was trained in causing harm to people.

“The impact of that moment will be felt forever by his partner Sarah and their two boys.

“I want to praise their courage throughout the investigation and while no sentence can ever turn rewind the clock or bring Philip back, I hope it will help them move forward.

“Ballard is a dangerous man and now faces time behind bars to reflect on the impact and consequences of his actions.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk