How a tragic row over a Blackpool parking space left one dead and another in jail

On the evening of February 19, 2023, Harry Fowle approached a taxi waiting area on Church Street, Blackpool. There was already a row going on.

Olivia Walker had parked her car at around 8.35pm, and was waiting with her passenger Kaitlyn Wright. A few minutes later Anthony Harley, who was extremely drunk, approached the car and told the women they could not park in a taxi rank.

The row quickly escalated.

"I'm from Manchester", the 53-year-old said. "F*** off". He also called the women 'fat sl**s'.

Ms Walker told him to "f*** off back to Manchester" and "stop harassing us", while recording the exchange on her mobile phone. At one point, Mr Harley bumped his torso into the vehicle and placed his hand on the window as if he was trying to block the recording.

At that moment, Fowle, 34, walked around the corner with two friends and saw what was happening. On seeing the row, he doubled back and walked over to the car.

Yesterday (May 21), a court heard how Fowle was not a violent man. He had no history of criminal convictions, and hadn't drunk alcohol for several years.

But his decision to intervene would end in tragedy.

Fowle has been jailed for 22 months after pleading guilty to manslaughter. Mr Harley's father said he felt as though "his soul had been destroyed".


Preston Crown Court was shown CCTV footage, showing Fowle speaking to Mr Harley, who began to back away. Ms Walker described him 'dancing on his feet' as he retreated, although he later told police he thought he was 'shadow boxing'.

He swung an air punch at Mr Harley which did not connect, swifly followed by another blow to Mr Harley's face, which caused him to lose his footing and fall backwards onto the road. His head hit the road with such impact Ms Walker could hear the sound of it - and the punch to his face - from inside her car.

Anthony Harley died from a single punch in a row over a parking space in Blackpool
Anthony Harley died from a single punch in a row over a parking space in Blackpool -Credit:Family handout

As Mr Harley lay motionless in the road, Fowle walked away, as Ms Walker and one of the men he had been with tended to the unconscious victim. Mr Harley was taken to Royal Preston Hospital where he died, surrounded by family, on March 17. A pathologist report concluded he died from head and brain injuries caused by impact of his head hitting the floor.

In a victim impact statement, Paul Harley said he 'fell to pieces' when he received the call his only son had been seriously injured and knowing he would have to break the news to his daughters. The family was still grieving the loss of his wife, Anthony's mother, who had died in January that year.

After three and a half weeks, the family was faced with the heartbreaking decision to withdraw life support. "Our hearts felt like they were being ripped out", Paul said.

Fowle sobbed in the dock as details of the case, and the CCTV footage, were recalled in court.

His barrister, Robert Smith, said Fowle was a man of good character with no history of violence or criminal convictions. He was not drunk - and has not consumed alcohol for a number of years, but when he saw the exchange at the car he felt it was necessary to step in as he was concerned for the safety of the two young women.

He admitted he had taken it too far when he punched Mr Harley.

Psychiatric and psychological reports said Fowle globaland cognitive impairments which cause him difficulty in reading situations and understanding social cues. He is 'more likely than not' to need support with problem solving, decision making and judgement, Mr Smith said.

Fowle sobbed in the dock as details of the case, and the CCTV footage, were recalled in court. -Credit:Lancashire Police
Fowle sobbed in the dock as details of the case, and the CCTV footage, were recalled in court. -Credit:Lancashire Police

Sentencing, The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Robert Altham, said: "No sentence I can pass can repair the loss that the Harley family have suffered and in due cause they may feel that the sentence I pass is too short - but that sentence is not meant to be, and never can be, a reflection of the value of the life that has been lost in this terrible incident."

He said the evidence showed the defendant was "less able to understand the situation the women in the car faced and less able to form a sensible plan to help them."

"The defendant, in delivering such a blow, was plainly acting recklessly as to whether harm would be caused", he said. "He was acting properly in initially confronting Mr Harley and I am perfectly satisfied that he felt, as an outsider, that it was necessary to get involved, but at the time of the blow, Mr Harley was already backing away.

"I accept, as a result of his difficulties, he may have had difficulty assessing the risk posed by Mr Harley. But he must have known - and by his plea he accepts - that he need not have punched Mr Harley at all. He certainly didn't need to punch him with that force and he certainly didn't need to punch him to the head."

Judge Altham handed down a sentence of one year and 10 months, a sentence he said fell within the bracket which could be suspended. However he told Fowle that "where a death is caused by a blow such as this, I am firmly of the opinion that the proper sentence can only be one of immediate custody."

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