Croydon teenagers found guilty of homophobic killing

Photo:Met Police

Two teenagers from Croydon have been found guilty of manslaughter after a violent homophobic assault on a 62-year-old man led to his death.

Ruby Thomas, 18, of Penge in Bromley and Joel Alexander, 20, of Thorton Heath in Croydon attacked Ian Baynham, a civil servant from Beckenham, in Trafalgar Square in September last year.

After a three-week trial at the Old Bailey, they were found guilty of his manslaughter today. Thomas was also convicted of an individual charge of affray.

A third defendant, Rachael Burke, 18, of Upper Norwood, Croydon, was acquitted of manslaughter, but previously found guilty of affray. She was acquitted of a separate charge of actual bodily harm against 30-year-old Phillip Brown, a friend of Mr Baynham who was with him on the night.

The assault was captured on CCTV cameras.

The court heard that Thomas had shouted homophobic abuse at Mr Baynham, who was then punched to the ground by Alexander. Both girls then kicked and stamped him as he lay on the pavement.

He suffered severe head injuries and the court heard that the impact of the blow from Alexander was still visible to the pathologist more than two weeks after it was struck.

Mr Baynham was taken to the Royal London Hospital in a coma from which he never recovered and his life support machine was switched off after 18 days.

Thomas, a former pupil at £12,000-a-year Sydenham High School for Girls in Lewisham, 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.

Jenny Baynham, sister of the victim, said today: “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. The outcome of this trial may help us deal with our loss but nothing will bring him back.”

The investigating officer, Detective Inspector Paul Barran, said: “First and foremost, Ian’s death was totally unnecessary. The police investigation clearly showed a background of aggressive, drunken behaviour that led to hostile confrontations with others – decency and respect were non-existent.

“Our thoughts will always be with them [the family] as they try to come to terms with the death of a gentleman with genuine morals. The dark shadow of that evening’s events will remain with those involved for a long time, and 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.”

Sentencing has been adjourned until January 2011.

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