A mechanic who killed a man when he pinned him down to the ground during a "citizen's arrest" has been jailed.

Benjamin Hunt chased Christopher Walters after he had damaged a car with a hammer and held him on the ground for several minutes.

Stafford Crown Court heard the 32-year-old held Mr Walters by the neck and used his body weight to keep him down even after he lost consciousness.

When police arrived at the scene in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, they and found Mr Walters to be 'limp and lifeless', StokeonTrent Live reports.

The 25-year-old was pronounced dead later that afternoon on May 15, 2019.

Police at the scene in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent
Police at the scene in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent

The dad-of-two was sentenced on Friday at Stafford Crown Court after admitting to manslaughter.

His work colleague Jonathan Hassall, who was also involved in the incident, took his own life just days before he was due to go on trial for manslaughter.

The court heard that Hunt worked with Mr Hassall at the latter's business in Longton.

On the fateful day the two men were at work when Mr Walters ran up and used a sledgehammer to smash the windows of an Audi belonging to Mr Hassall's son.

Hunt and Mr Hassall chased after Mr Walters and were able to detain him in a nearby street..

Benjamin Hunt chased Christopher Walters after he damaged a car
Benjamin Hunt chased Christopher Walters after he damaged a car

"Mr Hunt did not release at that point as he was fearful of what Mr Walters might do to him or those around him. There came a point where Mr Walters stopped resisting. Mr Hunt thought he was either asleep or unconscious.

"When Mr Walters stopped resisting, and when he was clearly unconscious, Mr Hunt should have released his hold of Mr Walters' neck. He did not. His actions at that point, he acknowledged, became excessive and unlawful."

Mr Price told the court that earlier in the day, Mr Walters left his home where he lived with his mum, Dawn Price, and met with some friends.

They told police that he seemed "stressed and ill at ease" but it remains unclear why he went on to damage the car.

Hunt and Mr Walters did not know each other before the incident.

After Mr Walters was detained police were called, and officers arrived 19 minutes later.

Hunt was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court
Hunt was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court

At that point, Hunt was still on top of the unconscious Mr Walters.

A postmortem examination found signs of oxygen deprivation in Mr Walters' brain, and significant bruising to his neck. The cause of death was given as compression of the neck.

Hunt has no previous convictions, and many "glowing" characters references were submitted on his behalf of family members, friends and former customers.

Barry White, mitigating, said Hunt had told him that he would "never do it again", and that he had learnt a "very hard lesson".

Mr White said: "He apprehended Mr Walters and he held him until the police arrived. Perhaps, I would submit, those are actions that could have been the actions of any of us had we been involved in a similar situation.

"But he accepts his plea, and he accepts he held on for too long. He acknowledges that once Mr Walters had lost consciousness, he should have let go."

Mr White told the court that the death of Mr Hassall had also had a huge impact on Hunt.

He said: "That, in addition to his own current feelings in relation to Mr Walters, is an additional factor here, an additional punishment – something he will have to live with for the rest of his life."

Judge Kristina Montgomery told Hunt that she accepted his claim that his purpose had been to apprehend someone he believed to be an offender.

But she said Mr Walters' death was a consequence of Hunt holding on after it was no longer necessary for him to do so, at which point there was an "appreciable risk of causing harm".

Judge Montgomery jailed him for 38 months.

She added: "It is my view that in the early part of your pursuit and restraint of Christopher Walters, there were actions that were lawful. But it quickly became - when Mr Walters was on the ground - an act of detention. That may have been lawful, in so far as the force you used was proportionate.

"But there came a point where you were no longer acting in such a way that was consistent with necessity, let alone proportionality."