Pair guilty of Trafalgar Square homophobic killing
- 16 December 2010
- From the section London
Two people who fatally attacked a man in London's Trafalgar Square after he had been subjected to homophobic taunts have been convicted of manslaughter.
Ian Baynham, 62, of Beckenham, south-east London, was assaulted outside South Africa House in September 2009. He died 18 days later.
He was punched by Joel Alexander, 20, and then repeatedly stamped on by Ruby Thomas, 18, as he lay unconscious.
The Old Bailey heard shocked onlookers had seen his head being kicked.
Alexander, of Thornton Heath, south-east London, was 19 at the time of the attack while Thomas, of Anerley, also south-east London, was 17.
Rachael Burke, 18, of Upper Norwood, south-east London, was found guilty of affray at an earlier trial but cleared of manslaughter.
Mr Baynham had just started a new job as a team leader in border control at the Home Office when he was killed during a night out.
The court heard one of the girls was overheard saying "we can do them" as a gay couple walked past them holding hands.
Later Thomas made homophobic comments when the victim and his friend Philip Brown passed them.
The court heard Mr Baynham told Thomas: "No, I don't want to sleep with you", before the row escalated.
She began hitting the victim with her handbag and he grabbed it.
Alexander, a sports science student at the University of East London who was with the group, intervened and punched Mr Baynham, knocking him to the ground.
Mr Brown told the court how he heard a "crunching noise" when his friend "fell like a corpse" and hit the ground.
As Mr Baynham lay on the pavement with blood pouring from his ear, nose and mouth, the girls stamped and kicked him.
Thomas, an ex-public schoolgirl, smiled as she and Burke "put the boot into" Mr Baynham after he was knocked to the ground by Alexander, the court heard.
Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, told the court the girls had been "fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol".
He said: "There is evidence that the female defendants then began putting the boot into Mr Baynham, who was still prone on his back, clearly unconscious and in distress.
"Shocked onlookers saw repeated stamping to his chest and forceful kicks to his head."
A witness described the attack as like a scene from the film A Clockwork Orange.
Police later found Mr Baynham's blood on Thomas's handbag and shoes.
The next day Thomas joked about the attack while chatting on Facebook but after Mr Baynham's death she told her then boyfriend "I didn't touch him", the jury heard.
A message from an unnamed friend to Thomas read: "Remember the gay men u beat up?
"Joel knocked him out he had a heart attack he sed [sic]."
Thomas replied: "Omg that is mad."
Burke said in another Facebook conversation: "I'm just scared 'bout my parents seeing it [the CCTV] and recognising it and scared 'bout us all being caught.
"I'm bare (very) scared."
In a victim impact statement Jenny Baynham, 59, said her brother's death had "devastated" their 90-year-old mother.
"I was horrified at what had happened and found it difficult to understand why anyone could have assaulted him in that way.
"It seems so ironic that his life ended so horrifically and senselessly on the streets of London which he loved so much.
"He was very aware some people were prejudiced against him."
She added that her brother, who was openly gay, had "deep-rooted traditional values and would always stand up for his beliefs".
The court heard Thomas was given a referral order after admitting to carrying out a drunken attack on a bus driver at the age of 15.
Evening's 'dark shadow'
All three attackers will be sentenced in 2011.
Following the verdict Det Insp Paul Barran, of the Met, said: "Ian's death was totally unnecessary.
"The dark shadow of that evening's events will remain with those involved for a long time.
"As shown by the court today, there is no place whatsoever in our society for any type of aggressive, abusive, confrontational behaviour or homophobic crime."