A VIOLENT bodybuilder who boasted about his cocaine and steroid use, killed a doting husband and father with a punch at a Bolton town centre bar.

Robert Smethurst was enjoying a night out with his cousin Aaron Bates as they were both celebrating their birthdays when, unprovoked, Robert Owen Greenhalgh stood up from his seat in the Luxe Lounge on Bradshawgate, clapped his hands together and punched Mr Bates in the face before landing another blow on Mr Smethurst’s head.

The force of the impact tore an artery in Mr Smethurst’s brain and, as he lay critically injured on the floor, the 6ft 3in man puffed out his chest and aggressively shouted “Who else wants some? Who’s next?”

Manchester Crown Court heard how, in a series of messages to others before the attack Greenhalgh had boasted of the violence he had previously used in work as a debt collector and described himself as "The hardest c*** in the North West". And he claimed to have spent £50,000 on cocaine in six months.

As his drug addiction spiralled friends described him as a “wired mess” and “smack rat and just months before the killing his mother warned him that his behaviour would end in death.

At Manchester Crown Court this afternoon, Friday, Greenhalgh, aged 31, of no fixed address, appeared in the dock having previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and causing actual bodily harm and was given a 15-year sentence by Judge Anthony Cross QC, who found him to be dangerous and causing a serious risk to the public. 

The sentence comprises of 11 years and three months in prison plus a further three years and nine months on licence.

“That you committed those offences of violence would come as no surprise to anyone who really knew  you and was prepared to tell the truth,” Judge Cross told Greenhalgh.

Greenhalgh was initially charged with murdering 36-year-old company director Rob Smethurst in the incident in the early hours of September 2 last year but the prosecution subsequently accepted his plea to the lesser charge after concluding there was no realistic prospect of obtaining a conviction for it.

The Bolton News: Police seal off the Luxe LOungePolice seal off the Luxe LOunge

Rob Hall, prosecuting, told the court how Mr Smethurst, a married father-of-two from Farnworth, had been enjoying his night out with his cousin and did not know Greenhalgh, or his friend Joseph Osborne, who arrived in the Luxe Lounge.

At one point Mr Smethurst, who was slightly intoxicated, accidentally stood on Greenhalgh’s foot when both men were at the bar.

“They shake hands and there appears to be no hard feelings,” said Mr Hall.

But nearly two hours later, at 1.30am, as Mr Smethurst was putting on his coat to go home, Greenhalgh suddenly stood up and, using his left hand, punched Mr Bates in the face sending him to the floor.

“Fortunately Aaron Bates was able to break his fall by putting his arms out behind him,” said Mr Hall.

Mr Smethurst was not so fortunate as the punch he received next was delivered with such force that it resulted in a catastrophic brain injury.

Mr Osborne later told police: “I was totally shocked as it was so out of the blue…there was nothing that led up to this.”

Paramedics were quickly on the scene but were unable to revive Mr Smethurst and he was pronounced dead at Salford Royal Infirmary a 2.48am.

Greenhalgh, who had been drinking heavily, including around 15 shots of vodka, left the club with his friend and drove his van to a friend’s house in Tyldesley where he kicked and punched the front door in “for a laugh” when he could not get in.

He and Mr Osborne then went to the Greyhound Hotel in Leigh, where they had booked a room and police arrested him later that day.

The Bolton News: Owen GreenhalghOwen Greenhalgh

When questioned by police, although he admitted hitting Mr Smethurst and Mr Bates, Greenhalgh tried to minimise his actions, blaming them on alcohol, cocaine and sleeping tablets and callously blamed his victims, alleging they caused him to assault them.

“He claimed that they had been drunk, cocky, looked at him funnily, said something funnily to him, danced funnily, bumped into him on dance floor and had intimidated him causing him to feel threatened,” said Mr Hall.

“He still blamed them even when presented with the CCTV footage that showed that they had done nothing to provoke the violence.”

The depths of Greenhalgh’s violence were found in messages on his phone, although the court heard that police have been unable to trace any victim he alleged to have harmed.

But in one message, sent in April last year, Greenhalgh’s mother, Joanne Taylor, told him: "Owen you should be ashamed of yourself……you are kidding yourself if you think this is going to end well.

“The only way this is going to end is death for you.

“You are so far gone now that you don't even know what is right and wrong anymore and for your information only idiots do what you are doing, not nice people.

“You lie, you cheat, you control with brute force but you will die if you don't stop. I'm done with you I'm afraid.”

Judge Cross told Greenhalgh: "She was wrong about one thing only - it would not be your death, but the death of a wholly innocent man."

He added: “You led a life in complete contrast to the man whose life you took away.”

Michael Brady QC, defending, told the court that the messages found on Greenhalgh’s phone had only been “idle, unpleasant boasts” and there was no evidence they were true.

He added that Greenhalgh, a father-of-one who had his own joinery business, has expressed remorse, shame and guilt.

The public gallery at court was packed with family and friends of Mr Smethurst, a devoted family man who was married to primary school teacher Amanda and had daughters, aged 15 and 12.

The Bolton News: Mr Smethurst with his wife and daughtersMr Smethurst with his wife and daughters

In an emotional statement read out in court, Amanda Smethurst, through her tears, told how the lives of many people have been devastated by her husband’s death.

“How could someone be so violent and hateful towards my husband who did absolutely nothing to deserve the attack?” she said.

After the sentencing, senior crown prosecutor for CPS North West, Caroline Wilbraham, said: “This is a tragic case. Rob Smethurst was a 36-year-old man with everything to live for, he had a wife and two daughters and a happy life.

“Nothing can change what happened to Rob that day, but I hope his family can take some comfort in knowing that Greenhalgh has been brought to justice for his reckless actions that day.

“I hope this case will serve as a reminder that violence can have devastating consequences and that one blow is enough to take someone’s life.”