Teenage girl locked up for killing gay man
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Thursday 16 December 2010
A former public schoolgirl who hurled homophobic abuse at a gay civil servant before kicking and stamping on him during a deadly attack is tonight behind bars.
Ruby Thomas, 18, was found guilty of the manslaughter of 62-year-old Ian Baynham, who died 18 days after the drink-fuelled assault in London's Trafalgar Square.
Police later found his blood smeared on her handbag and the ballet pumps she was wearing as she kicked him.
The court heard she 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 told the Old Bailey that the blonde 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.
A third defendant, 18-year-old Rachael Burke, of Upper Norwood, south east London, was found guilty of affray at an earlier trial.
All three will be sentenced on January 26. Thomas and Alexander were remanded in custody after Judge Richard Hawkins refused to continue their bail applications by their barristers.
A woman in the public gallery blew a kiss to Thomas as she was taken down to the cells.
The teenager had earlier appeared distraught and put her head in her hands as jurors returned their unanimous verdicts.
Thomas, a former pupil at the £12,000-a-year Sydenham High School for Girls, had a previous record for violence.
She was just 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 last year 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 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".
The court heard that the teenagers who attacked him had been drinking before they set upon him outside South Africa House on September 25 last year.
When Mr Baynham and Mr Brown appeared, Thomas began making homophobic comments.
A scuffle broke out and Alexander, who had been with Thomas's group, ran up and punched the victim to the ground.
Mr Brown said his friend "fell like a corpse", hitting his head on the pavement with a "crunching noise". Blood was pouring from his head.
One witness saw Thomas stamp on his stomach and kick him in the head while saying "dickhead" and "f*** you" while another noticed that she was smiling.
The attackers ran off. In a Facebook chat the next day, Thomas joked about her row with "some c***" who pulled her bag, adding: "Ha, ha, ha."
Thomas was training to be a beauty therapist at the time of the attack.
Mr Baynham's sister Jenny said: "My brother was an ordinary, honest, decent man, loved by his family, especially our mother, and his many friends.
"His only crime seems to have been to stand up for who he was, and it is impossible to make sense of the dreadful event that led to his death."
Detective Inspector Paul Barran, who led the investigation, said: "There is no place whatsoever in our society for any type of aggressive, abusive, confrontational behaviour or homophobic crime."
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