Student 'hit gay man to protect female friend'

A student accused of killing a gay man in Trafalgar Square said he punched the victim because he saw him strike a girl and feared she might get hurt.





Joel Alexander, 19, told an Old Bailey jury he felt he "had to act" after he saw Ruby Thomas in a confrontation with 62-year-old Ian Baynham.



He said: "What I was perceiving was a grown man hitting a girl. I thought Ruby could end up getting hurt because he was quite substantially bigger than her."



Mr Baynham died 18 days after being knocked to the ground where he was allegedly kicked by Thomas and a second girl, Rachel Burke, in September last year.



Thomas, 18, of Lichfield, Staffs, Alexander, of Thornton Heath, south London, and Burke, 18, of Three Oaks, East Sussex, all deny manslaughter.



Alexander, a sports science student at the University of East London, today told the court how he had been out with his girlfriend Louisa Figini and others celebrating her birthday and drinking.



He said before the altercation with Mr Baynham there had been another row in Trafalgar Square involving "lairy, mouthy" Thomas and a group of youths which he had tried to defuse by saying: "They are just drunk, silly girls."



Nothing more came of it, Alexander said, adding: "I couldn't predict that there was going to be more trouble."



The first thing he knew of the later row "was when Ruby shouted something like 'batty boys"' at Mr Baynham and a friend, he added.



"I remember him turning around and saying something back to Ruby along the lines of 'I may be gay but...'.



"Then I remember him walking a few paces towards where we were sitting. They walked towards each other."



Alexander said there were raised voiced and that it seemed there was about to be another confrontation, and that then he saw the contents of Thomas's bag go to the floor.



"The next thing I saw was Mr Baynham in the same motion throw his arm and his foot at Ruby. I saw the foot connect with the shin but I didn't see the arm connect. It looked like it was aimed towards her upper body.



"I was already concerned, I was already moving towards the situation.



"What I was perceiving was a grown man hitting a girl. She was more subdued, she wasn't as lairy any more.



"It looked to me as if the man was starting to get the better of her. That's when I thought I had to act. I lunged at Mr Baynham and hit him with my right hand."



Alexander told jurors that it happened in a "split second" and it was "a very fast-moving situation".



His barrister Kerim Fuad QC asked: "Did you have any concerns about what would happen if you didn't act?"



Alexander replied: "I thought Ruby could end up getting hurt because he was quite substantially bigger than her."



He said he connected with Mr Baynham's jaw with "moderate" force and did not think it would knock him to the ground.



"I saw him go back to his right foot and then backwards," said the defendant.



Mr Fuad asked him why he got involved and why he did not turn a blind eye, and Alexander replied: "In my eyes, in my opinion, a grown man shouldn't hit a girl."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried