At last we can grieve

Richard Reynolds.
Richard Reynolds.
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THE family of Richard Reynolds, whose life was cut short by a brutal thug, say only now can they properly begin to grieve for him.

Last week a jury took just minutes to convict muscle-bound Daniel Duckworth, 36, of manslaughter. He was given a 13-year extended sentence.

Police tent in Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge.

Police tent in Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge.

Richard’s brother Frank said: “It’s just sinking in, now we have got the trial out of the way and we can properly grieve for him.”

But he added: “We have had fantastic support – all the witnesses who came forward, the people who helped him as he lay in the road and held his hand and made him comfortable. And the police have been brilliant.”

Duckworth knocked out Richard, a former paratrooper, with a vicious punch. Richard fell and cracked his head on the road.

He had been enjoying a night out in Sowerby Bridge.

Brother Frank, of Greetland, speaking for the first time since the tragedy, paid tribute to Richard, whom he described as generous and fun-loving.

“He did a lot for charity and walking and fishing were his passions,” he said.

“He was 6ft 1in and a really fit lad.”

Richard had completed the Prince’s Trust Borneo Challenge which involved hiking, biking and water-rafting.

He gave the proceeds of his 40th birthday to the West Yorkshire Forget-Me-Not Trust.

He worked as a tree surgeon and had represented the British Logging Team.

And he mixed his love of fun and fitness by taking part in Extreme Ironing events – described as an extreme sport and a performance art – in which people take an ironing board to a remote location and iron.

“He was a very funny, jolly sort of lad who never got into trouble,” said Frank.

“There were over 400 people at his funeral.”

Richard died 12 days after the attack but as he lay in his hospital bed his family thought his strength would pull him through.

“He just didn’t, but he fought right to the end,” said Frank.

Richard, a bachelor, had expressed a wish that his organs be donated to benefit others.

When his life-support was switched off, a team of surgeons gathered as he was expected to pass away within three hours.

But he survived more than 24, which rendered his organs unsuitable for reuse.

Frank’s wife Karen said: “That just shows how fit he was.

“The family just want to get through Christmas quietly now but want to thank everybody for their help and support.

“It has been an awful ordeal.”

Richard’s ashes have been scattered at Brearley, where he fished and Luddenden graveyard, where family members are buried and where a headstone will be erected in his memory.

Richard attended the former Heath Grammar School, Halifax, and was well known in Sowerby Bridge, where he lived .

He also leaves siblings Lesley Bishop, 49, of Halifax; Gynell Turner, 44, of Northampton; David Robinson, 40, of Sowerby Bridge and Steven Robinson, 37, of St Anne’s.

Duckworth, of West Street, Sowerby Bridge, was revealed to have had a background of violence but Frank said the court saw through his lies.

“He lied to beat the system and it backfired on him,” he said.

Duckworth’s fiancee Michelle Burrell gave the most obvious lying evidence, according to trial Judge Jonathan Durham Hall.

“I’m bitter at her making accusations that slandered a good man’s name,” said Frank.

To keep Richard’s memory alive his family intend organising a sponsored walk next May.