‘We will continue our fight for justice for dad’

Frank Milligan's family near Lewes Crown Court after the sentencing yesterday (March 15, 2018)
Frank Milligan's family near Lewes Crown Court after the sentencing yesterday (March 15, 2018)

The family of Frank Milligan who tragically died after an altercation in Burgess Hill says they will ‘continue to fight for justice for dad’.

Mr Milligan, 63, collapsed and later died after a disturbance broke out at his family’s shop UpMarket 22, in Church Road, Burgess Hill, when John Venn, 20, Hayden Garrett, 21, and Joshua Hewes, 21, walked in uninvited.

Frank Milligan's family outside Lewes Crown Court. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

Frank Milligan's family outside Lewes Crown Court. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

The trio were sentenced to 12 months in prison at Lewes Crown Court last Thursday, after pleading guilty to affray.

They were originally charged with manslaughter but a medical report – which came in during the trial – showed no clear evidence that the altercation was the result of Mr Milligan’s death. In response, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the manslaughter charges. After the sentencing, Mr Milligan’s daughter Natalie Cadman, 37, who was attacked during the incident, said: “They have shown no remorse for their actions and behaviour. How can we ensure that this does not happen again?

“The judge was very fair in his summing up, and what was respectful was although he found it very difficult to find the link between what had happened and dad’s death he was able to certainly keep the circumstances very much alive at the forefront of what he was considering when he was sentencing.

“I hope this sends out a clear message that something has got to change.”

Hayden Garrett, Joshua Hewes and John Venn have been jailed. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

Hayden Garrett, Joshua Hewes and John Venn have been jailed. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

Mr Milligan’s son Scott, 35, whose partner Darren Wynne, 38, was also attacked, said although his father collapsed and died after the altercation, the family ‘still held the men responsible’.

“We are hoping to try and go to an appeal to enforce the manslaughter charge for my father.

“Obviously they pleaded guilty and were sentenced by the judge for affray, so they are guilty for something.

“It wasn’t what we were expecting. We were built up to get nothing as we were told there was a possibility due to a change in charge that we weren’t going to get justice for my father, as well as the assault on my sister, my partner and my family.

Frank Milligan

Frank Milligan

“We will continue to fight for justice for dad and justice for my family to ensure that this will never happen again.”

Mr Wynne, 38, said the sentence was a ‘great result’ but ‘not enough’: “I don’t think it is enough for what the family has been through and what happened to Frank.

“If the manslaughter charges hadn’t been dropped – we could have been looking at a longer sentence.”

Pru Moore, town and district councillor, came to court to support the family. She said: “It is essential we don’t lose sight that Frank Milligan was a very loving husband, father and grandfather.

“He worked all his life, he did so much for the community and this man lost his life following that awful attack and affray and the family will never forget that, the community will not forget that. “It is obvious to anybody there is a link, one minute the man is fine and is helping his family doing what he does best and the next minute he is dying and that is following immediately after this awful and terrifying attack.”

After the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Carron, said: “We are pleased these three have been sentenced to 12 months for their involvement in this tragic incident in Burgess Hill. This has been an extremely difficult case for Mr Milligan’s family and our thoughts and sympathies remain with them for their loss.”

A court heard how a woman who was attacked during an altercation in Burgess Hill that involved her father who later died had ‘never felt so scared in her life’.

Natalie Cadman, 37, a nurse who lives in Burgess Hill, had been at her family’s shop UpMarket 22 in Church Road on the evening of May 13, 2016.

The shop was due to open the following day and she and her family were making final arrangements.

But shortly after 11pm, an altercation broke out in the shop when a group ‘behaving noisily’ walked in uninvited.

The altercation led Mrs Cadman to be struck in the mouth. Her father Frank Milligan, 63, who tried to break up the altercation, collapsed and died two days later after suffering a stroke.

John Venn, 20, of The Highlands, Cuckfield, Hayden Garrett, 21, of Allen Road, Haywards Heath and Joshua Hewes, 21, of Silver Birches, Haywards Heath, were sentenced to 12 months in prison at Lewes Crown Court last Thursday, after pleading guilty to affray in January.

Sentencing the trio Judge Guy Anthony said: “No one in Frank Milligan’s family will ever believe that the fatal stroke that he suffered shortly after the affray was unconnected with the events that the three of you engaged in. Natalie, who is generally a robust person, had never been so scared in her life.”

The court heard how the trio had been on a night out. They were seen to be ‘behaving noisily’ by Tony Begley, landlord of the Block and Gasket pub, shortly before approaching the shop. He had noticed one of them kicking shop windows, which later confirmed to be Venn, the court heard.

Mrs Cadman was working when Hewes was the first to enter the shop. She asked him to leave but then Venn walked in and picked up a box of crisps. Three men were then standing in the shop doorway and Hewes asked for some Fosters beers. Mrs Cadman shouted at them to get out and pushed Hewes out of the shop, the court heard.

Darren Wynne, 38, of Valebridge, Burgess Hill, who had also been working in the shop, heard Mrs Cadman and ran to help her, followed by her father Mr Milligan. But the altercation broke out onto the street and this is when Mrs Cadman asked her mother, Susan, who was also inside the shop, to call the police, the court heard.

A statement from Mrs Cadman was read out in court: “I feel quite confident managing violence and aggression because of my job, but I felt that I had no control in this whatsoever and felt like I had nowhere to go and that is when I felt scared, and that is not like me, I have never felt so scared in my life.”

Prosecuting, Alan Gardner, told the court Mr Wynne saw Venn ‘face-to-face’ with Mr Milligan: “Venn had his forehead against Mr Milligan’s and was seen to be goading and threatening action.

“Homophobic abuse was also directed at Mr Wynne, but it is not entirely clear who was responsible for that particular abuse.”

The court heard how Garrett had approached Mr Wynne to hit him, and that Mr Wynne grabbed him around the head, to stop this from happening. Mrs Cadman saw him struggling and tried to help. along with her father Mr Milligan. This was when she was struck in the mouth.

The court heard how the police were called a second time, which led to the arrests of Hewes and Garrett. Venn was arrested a few days later.

Defending Venn, Tony Waller, told the court: “Venn feels ashamed about this. He had been drinking and acknowledges his behaviour, which was wholly unacceptable.”

Defending Hewes, Andrew Stephen, said: “He wishes of course and no doubt everyone in this courtroom that the clocks could be turned back, but of course they cannot.”

Defending Garrett, Gabby Henty, said he had ‘managed to stay out of trouble’ since the incident.

The trio must serve at least half of their 12-month sentence. Venn will serve his in a young offenders institution.