Family campaign for law change after victim’s killer is released

The family of a man who was killed in a one-punch attack in 2019 have shared their frustration after his killer was released after serving just two years of a four-year prison sentence. Bradley Matcham, who was 24 at the time of the incident, was punched in an “unprovoked” attack in Northampton on February 9, 2019. Arthur Billings, 19, of Harpole, Northamptonshire, punched Mr Matcham during a row.

He added: “A four year sentence is an insult. When it happened, I received a message from one of Bradley’s close friends saying, ‘you don’t know me but something happened to him last night and it’s very serious’.

“I was working out at sea at the time and flew home the next day. I was able to spend every day in hospital by his side. My brother wouldn’t hurt a fly. He was such a gentle character. He was seen on the CCTV diffusing the situation and moving his friends away when was hit from behind. 

“We can’t change the sentence he received but we want to prevent other families from having to go through what we have. There’s phases where you’re angry, remorseful and completely numb. You naievely expect someone to be there until the end.

“He was my little brother. I don’t have any other siblings. I’ll never be an uncle, my children will never have an uncle. There’s so much we’re going to miss out on. There didn’t seem to be any remorse for his actions.”

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Bradley’s mother Sarah Matcham told the court in a statement the “pain [of his death] will haunt me for the rest of my life. Anyone that had the good fortune of meeting Bradley described him as kind-hearted, dependable, intuitive and inspiring. He was 24 years old, he’d just got a promotion at work. He had so much to live for. When a mother gives birth she has an instinctive need to protect her child and that doesn’t change as they get older.

“We are not designed to bury our children and we are not prepared for how to deal with it. I watched my son fade away. My heart was ripped out when he died and it is a pain that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

The family appealed the sentence at the time, with Bradley’s aunt writing to her local MP and Boris Johnson, who was Prime Minister at the time, to complain about the sentence given.

His aunt, Lorraine ‘Loz’ Matcham, is currently fundraising in Bradley’s memory for Headway Hertfordshire – a charity that helps those affected by brain injuries. Loz, along with Bradley’s father Ian, plan on doing a skydive on April 16, 2023 to raise money. 

Aaron said: “For me, he [Billings] doesn’t exist. I don’t think about him and I don’t care what he’s doing. I don’t want to think of Bradley and then think of this individual. I don’t want to tarnish my memories of him.

“I’ve been on nights out and been involved in scuffles and confrontations and you don’t plan to get involved and when you break things up or try and pull people away from a situation escalating, you don’t think what might happen if someone swings and you retaliate. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be held accountable for those actions because you’ve taken someone’s life away or severely impaired the remainder of their life.”

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