The nephew of a 45-year-old man from Preston, who died following a mass brawl outside the Sir Richard Owen Wetherspoon’s pub in Lancaster, has made an appeal for witnesses of the attack to come forward.
The 19-year-old Lancaster University student, who we will call James, does not wish his real name to be published.
James’ uncle, David Bolton, a father of two, suffered head injuries and was found unconscious outside the pub on the afternoon of Thursday April 23. He died in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary the following day, while still being treated for his wounds. The police are now conducting a murder inquiry.
“Everyone who knew Dave loved him for who he was – a kind, caring and considerate man who would do anything for anyone, day and night,” said James. “This tragedy has left us all devastated however we continue to think of the proud thoughts and memories he has left behind.”
The cause of the violence is not clear. Mr. Bolton was at the pub celebrating St. George’s day with friends, but police are not ruling out the possibility that the violence was football-related. Police confirmed that at least some of those involved were fans of rival clubs Preston North End and Blackpool FC.
James said: “I am appealing to anybody who happened to be in the area between 3 and 4.15 pm, particularly living in Cityblock, who may have seen anything to come forward and contact Lancashire Police on 0845 1 25 35 45.
“Please help us to bring those responsible to justice and let Dave rest in peace.”
Blackpool FC has vowed to ban from attending games any fans who were involved in the attack. “We condemn violence of any kind and we work hard to eradicate it from the terraces,” said club secretary Matt Williams. “It has no place in football, or society.
“We will be speaking to the police about a ban for any fans who are found to have been involved in this incident.”
While the investigation is ongoing and police are currently studying CCTV footage to try and establish a clearer picture of events, 17 men aged between 20 and 45 were arrested on suspicion of affray following the brawl, 12 from Blackpool and 5 from Preston.
All were bailed, pending continued investigation. Detective Superintendent Justin Srivastava, said: “Although we have already made a number of arrests, the investigation is still in its early stages and we would appeal for anyone who was in the Sir Richard Owen pub [that day] to come forward and contact police.
“We believe there were between 40 and 50 people in the pub at the time.”
Mr. Bolton was a self-employed carpenter and lived in Bamber Bridge, Preston. He is survived by his wife, Michelle, and sons Sam, 21, and Jake, 19, who have spoken of their anguish at the attack. “This has absolutely devastated us,” said Mrs. Bolton. “It doesn’t seem real—it’s like it’s happening to someone else.” She added: “I was with Dave for 27 years, married for 23. We did everything together as a family. He was an absolutely fantastic person. This has absolutely devastated our sons.”
Mrs. Bolton also led calls for those responsible to hand themselves in. “Go to the police station and hand yourself in,” she said. “Do the right thing.”