Man’s death was ‘inevitable’ after being held in choke hold, jurors hear

PUBLISHED: 15:16 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:16 13 November 2019

James Greene. Photo: Norfolk police

James Greene. Photo: Norfolk police


A drug user who died after an altercation in his Norwich flat was likely strangled using a “choke hold” which made his death “inevitable” a court has heard.

The flat at Dolphin Grove where James Greene was fatally injured. Photo: Luke PowellThe flat at Dolphin Grove where James Greene was fatally injured. Photo: Luke Powell

James Greene, 39, died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Thursday, June 6, after an attack at his home at Dolphin Grove two days earlier.

He had been resuscitated at the scene but did not survive.

Peter Bruton, now 27, is on trial at Norwich Crown Court accused of Mr Greene's murder, which he denies.

Bruton had been Mr Greene's lodger at the time of the incident and was arrested at the scene.

Home Office pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift told the court that "death was inevitable" when emergency services arrived due to Mr Greene's extensive brain injuries.

He said in post-mortem he found bleeding and bruising to Mr Greene's neck, and signs of haemorrhage around his eyes.

"The broad nature of the bruising and lack of fingertip bruising to the neck raises the possibility pressure was applied using either a soft ligature or broad application of a forearm, including the use of a choke hold or sleeper hold," said Dr Swift.

He added bruises found on Mr Greene's knuckles were consistent with offensive punches using clenched fists.

He said the lack of oxygen to the brain caused an hypoxic ischaemic brain injury which caused his death.

"Damage to the brain was such that death was inevitable. The heart was restarted but the damage to the brain was such that he was effectively brain dead."

Toxicology reports showed evidence of methadone, morphine, cocaine and fentanyl in Mr Greene's system, reflecting recreational abuse of heroin and cocaine, while he was also on a script.

But Dr Swift said the drugs were unlikely have contributed to Mr Greene's death.

The court had previously heard how Greene had hatched a plan, "a cheat" on Bruton. Both were drug users.

Prosecutor Peter Gair said Greene would "accuse the defendant of taking a £10 bag of crack cocaine from him, and he would pay him back either £10 or a bag of drugs".

Neighbours told the court they heard a disturbance and what sounded like a "death scream" from the flat before police arrived shortly before 10pm.

Mr Greene was found lying on the floor in the lounge and officers threatened Bruton with Taser before he was arrested.

In interview Bruton said Greene had threatened him with a bottle.

He said he "held him down and strangled him" and "wanted him dead".

The trial continues.

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