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Manslaughter case: 'He was my best friend'
A FORMER soldier who denies the manslaughter of “one of his closest friends” has told the jury what happened on the night of his death.
Steven Mark Castaglioni, 21, was found dead in the Packway, Larkhill, at just after 11pm on June 29, 2009.
John Edward Ronald Gilliver, 33, told a jury at Winchester Crown Court on Tuesday that he and Mr Castaglioni had spent the evening drinking together.
Gilliver said Mr Castaglioni “got too drunk” and got agitated when told he needed to go home.
The pair were seen by witnesses shouting and arguing in a Larkhill park before Gilliver followed Mr Castaglioni along Alanbrooke Road to The Packway, trying to get him to go back to camp.
“He didn’t want to go back to camp, he wanted to do his own thing,” said father-of-four Gilliver. “He motioned towards me with his hands up as if he was going to strike or hit me. He came towards me swinging his hands at me. I took a step back and I struck him in the chest.”
Gilliver said he used “reasonable force” to stop Mr Castaglioni from coming towards him and he denied hitting him in the head as other witnesses had reported.
Mr Castaglioni fell to the ground but Gilliver said: “He didn’t fall instantaneously.”
Gilliver and another man helped Mr Castaglioni up before lowering him back down to the ground.
“He was literally snoring,” he said. “We thought ‘he’s messing around, pretending to be asleep or unconscious or whatever’.”
Then realising Castaglioni was “deteriorating quite quickly”, Gilliver carried out CPR before paramedics arrived.
He was arrested at the scene and only knew his friend had died when in the back of a police car on the way to Salisbury Police Station.
“Words can’t describe really the feeling of getting told that,” said Gilliver. “He was a good friend; one of my best friends at the time in that area and obviously I did not want him to be hurt or even worse, to be dead.”
The jury also heard evidence from consultant neuropathologist Dr Safa Al-Sarraj, who said alcohol consumption was a factor in Mr Castaglioni’s death.
He said that there was no objective medical evidence of brain injury and that a haemorrhage can be sustained in a number of ways, such as a patient being unconscious and their airway being obstructed.
Gilliver, of Copper Beech Road, Nuneaton, who has since resigned from the army, was initially charged with murder but the charges were dropped in 2010.
The prosecution reopened the case after gathering more evidence from expert witnesses and Gilliver was charged with manslaughter last year.
The case continues.