Seven years for teenager who kicked gay man to death
Wednesday 26 January 2011
A former public schoolgirl who kicked and stamped on a gay civil servant during a deadly homophobic attack was jailed for seven years today for his manslaughter.
Ruby Thomas, 19, hurled obscene abuse at 62-year-old Ian Baynham during the drink-fuelled assault in London's Trafalgar Square in September 2009.
Mr Baynham died 18 days later in hospital. Police found his blood smeared on Thomas's handbag and the ballet pumps she was wearing as she kicked him.
The Old Bailey heard how she screamed "f****** faggots", and smiled as she "put the boot into" Mr Baynham after he was knocked to the ground by another teenager, Joel Alexander.
Thomas's ex-boyfriend Declan Seavers told the court that the teenager, of Anerley, south east London, was "not the type of girl" to have done it.
But jurors did not agree and convicted her of manslaughter, along with Alexander, 20, of Thornton Heath, south east London, at the end of their trial last month.
Alexander was jailed for six years while 18-year-old Rachael Burke, of Upper Norwood, south east London, was given a two-year sentence after being found guilty of affray at an earlier trial.
Judge Richard Hawkins increased Thomas's sentence from six years to seven years because of the homophobic nature of the attack.
He said: "This was a case of mindless drink-fuelled violence committed in public."
Thomas turned and looked up towards supporters in the public gallery as she was led down from the dock to begin her sentence.
The judge blamed her for sparking the violence that led to Mr Baynham's death, although it was not her kicks that killed him.
He said: "You, Ruby Thomas, started the matter. You have a previous conviction for drunken loutish behaviour and you have demonstrated hostility towards Ian Baynham based upon his sexual orientation or presumed sexual orientation."
It was not suggested that Alexander's actions had anything to do with the victim being gay.
Earlier, Christopher Sallon QC, for Thomas, had claimed that there was little "reliable evidence" to suggest she was "hostile towards Mr Baynham based on his sexual orientation".
He said statements from her mother, and a gay friend of the defendant, provided a "strong case" that "homophobia played no part in her life at all".
Mr Sallon suggested that when she insulted Mr Baynham it could have been a response to his rejection of her drunken flirtation.
"Could it be that the words she actually spoke, 'f****** faggots' simply meant 'you have got to be if you don't want to sleep with me?" he said.
Her crime was not a "gay-bashing attack" but simply involved a "passing remark made by a drunken girl", Mr Sallon added.
He described Thomas's difficult background, with a father who had been violent towards her mother and had been convicted of manslaughter.
The mother, a legal secretary, had "scrimped and saved" to send her to private school, Mr Sallon said.
But after Thomas confided in a classmate about her father, she had been subjected to "malicious gossip and terrible bullying".
Mr Sallon said she had turned to drink while still a young girl to cope with her problems but had now engaged in the 12-step recovery programme.
Kerim Fuad QC, for Alexander, said his offence had been "wholly out of character" compared with his "usual responsible behaviour".
Thomas, a former pupil at £12,000-a-year Sydenham High School for Girls, had a previous record for violence.
She was 15 when she assaulted a bus driver in Northumberland Avenue in December 2007, a short walk from where the attack on Mr Baynham took place.
On that night in September 2009 she was said to have been "off her face", acting in a "lairy, mouthy" way, and flirting with random men.
The court heard that Thomas screamed "f****** faggots" at the victim and his friend Philip Brown.
When Mr Baynham confronted her, there was a scuffle during which she hit him with her handbag and he grabbed it.
Alexander, a student, then ran up and knocked him to the ground, causing a severe brain injury as his head struck the pavement.
Brian Altman QC, prosecuting, said: "That did not suffice. 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."
He said the girls were "fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol" and one witness likened the attack to a scene from the film A Clockwork Orange.
"Shocked onlookers saw repeated stamping to his chest and forceful kicks to his head," said Mr Altman.
Mr Baynham was in the first week of a new job as a team leader in border control working for Serco, which was contracted to the Home Office, when he was killed.
He had previously held a number of managerial positions in local government.
The day before the attack, he had phoned his sister Jenny Baynham and told her how much he was enjoying his new role.
She was at his bedside when he died from a brain injury sustained during the assault, together with Mr Baynham's friend George Richardson.
Mr Richardson described the victim as "a perfectly normal man who just happened to be gay".
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