Benjamin Edwards' sister defends brother in Facebook post after appeal dismissed

Benjamin Edwards. Picture issued by Derbyshire Constabulary.
Benjamin Edwards. Picture issued by Derbyshire Constabulary.

The sister of Benjamin Edwards has defended him after he lost his bid for freedom.

Last May, a Nottingham Crown Court jury unanimously found Edwards guilty of the manslaughter of former soldier Chris Henchliffe.

Edwards, 23, formerly of Fieldview Place, Chesterfield, lost an appeal against his conviction last week after three top judges ruled that CCTV footage provided 'clear and compelling evidence against him'.

In a public Facebook post published after they made their decision, Edwards' sister said he 'did not act in an aggressive manner'.

The Derbyshire Times has asked Derbyshire Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service if they can send us the CCTV footage, which was played during Edwards’ trial.

'Ben did not act in an aggressive manner'

During his trial, Edwards said he threw a punch at 26-year-old Mr Henchliffe outside the Pomegranate Theatre in Corporation Street, Chesterfield, during the early hours of July 3, 2016, as he feared he was going to attack his friend, James Wisternoff.

But dismissing Edwards' attempt to overturn his conviction, Lord Justice Holroyde told London’s Court of Appeal on Friday: "The CCTV footage provided clear and compelling evidence against Edwards.

"It showed plainly that Mr Henchliffe was not moving towards Mr Wisternoff when Edwards threw a punch at him."

READ MORE: Benjamin Edwards - who killed Chesterfield’s Chris Henchliffe - loses appeal for freedom

In her Facebook post - which has been shared and liked hundreds of times - Kate Edwards stated: "It was not until Chris started running with his fist in the air and leaped to attack James from behind that Ben ran to protect his friend and threw one punch.

"Ben did not act in an aggressive manner and his move was purely out of the goodness of his heart to defend a friend and believed he was doing the right thing.

"There is no evidence of Ben’s move connecting with Chris although he fell to the floor.

"This was not a drunken punch but rather something we would all act on within instinct and can happen to everybody.

She added that her brother’s name 'has been dragged through the mud for too long'.

'You hit him hard'

Giving evidence during his trial, Edwards said there was 'a bit of a scuffle' between Mr Henchliffe and Mr Wisternoff before Terry Goodwin, a Moo Bar doorman, led Mr Wisternoff away up the road.

Edwards, who did not describe himself as drunk, added: "As he was marching him up the street, I saw Chris Henchliffe walking towards them.

"I thought my friend was going to get hurt, I thought he was going to get punched from behind - I feared for James's safety.

"Chris Henchliffe's fist was raised above his head - it was clenched.

"You could see he was fuming and aggressive.

"I didn’t plan what I was going to do, I just threw my arm in the air."

Edwards said he could not confirm if his fist, hand or arm connected with Mr Henchliffe.

Prosecutor Andrew Vout said: "You picked on a man who was off his guard, you hit him hard, you knocked him out - it was an act of aggression."

The jury agreed that Edwards was guilty of unlawfully killing Mr Henchliffe.

He was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Grieving mother speaks after case

Dad-of-one Mr Henchliffe, who lived on Maynard Road, Chesterfield, served with the Yorkshire Regiment and completed a tour of Afghanistan.

After the Court of Appeal verdict, his mother Yvonne Henchliffe said: "I am relieved my family can finally grieve.

"All I ever wanted was justice.

"Forever young, Chris."