James Wisternoff found guilty of assaulting Chris Henchliffe
A young man has been convicted of assaulting Chris Henchliffe in Chesterfield town centre.
During a trial at Chesterfield magistrates' court today, James Wisternoff admitted to throwing two punches at Mr Henchliffe - one of which connected with the former soldier - outside the Pomegranate Theatre in Corporation Street during the early hours of July 3 last year.
Wisternoff, 25, of Church Street North, Old Whittington, argued he was acting in self-defence and denied assaulting Mr Henchliffe by beating him - but District Judge Andrew Davison found him guilty of the offence.
Seconds after Wisternoff assaulted Mr Henchliffe, Benjamin Edwards threw a punch at the victim who fell heavily to the ground and suffered a catastrophic head injury.
Dad-o-one Mr Henchliffe, 26, died in hospital nine days later.
In May, Edwards, 22, formerly of Fieldview Place, Chesterfield, was convicted of manslaughter and is currently serving a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
Edwards, who argued he threw a punch at Mr Henchliffe as he feared he was going to harm Wisternoff, has lodged an appeal against his conviction.
The court heard a bouncer asked Mr Henchliffe to leave 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 said Wisternoff acted in 'aggression'.
But giving evidence, Wisternoff said: "He (Mr Henchliffe) was being aggressive towards me and my sister.
"He was puffing his chest out and saying he was military trained - his body language was threatening.
"He was shouting at us and getting closer and at that point I felt like I was going to get assaulted or my sister was going to get assaulted."
Wisternoff - who insisted he had 'only had a few drinks' - originally said he 'threw a push and a punch' at Mr Henchliffe.
However, he later accepted he threw two punches at him, one of which connected, and said he could have walked away from the situation.
Finding Wisternoff guilty, Mr Davison said: "I'm not satisfied the defendant honestly believed it was necessary for him to use force to defend himself."
He added: "The behaviour of the victim was inappropriate.
"He'd had a lot to drink and made inappropriate remarks."
Wisternoff is due to be sentenced tomorrow.