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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Homeless man Peter Clement accused of killing David Wilkes in Canterbury's Dane John Gardens 'stood and laughed during deadly attack'

16 January 2014
by Paul Hooper

One of the men accused of killing David Wilkes stood and laughed as the deadly attack in a Canterbury park was being carried out, it was claimed today.

Peter Clement, 50, is alleged to have punched Mr Wilkes after calling him a "wife-beater and a paedophile" in Dane John Gardens.

Witness Jamie Bailes, 22, told the jury at Canterbury Crown Court how the man in a green cap – which the prosecution say is Clement – struck Mr Wilkes "four or five times".

Homeless David Wilkes died in hospital days after being attacked in a Canterbury park

Homeless David Wilkes died in hospital days after being attacked in a Canterbury park

At one point, Mr Bailes - whose interview with police was recorded and played to the jury - asked a police officer to sit crossed-legged on the ground as he re-enacted the attack.

He claimed 35-year-old Mr Wilkes tried to get up, but Liverpool-born Clement called over
two other men who had earlier come to the park.

"He couldn't get up and then the other guy started hitting him and wouldn't stop," he claimed.

The crown claim Lloyd Thorne, 22, was the man who joined in the assault, punching and kicking Mr Wilkes.

Thorne and Clement, both of no fixed address, have denied manslaughter.

A policeman guards the scene in Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

A policeman guards the scene in Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

Mr Bailes said "the vest guy" – whom the prosecution claim was Thorne – "just started punching Dave, saying, 'you're a wife beater' and all that and kept on punching and punching him and kicking him the stomach".

"Dave was trying to get up, but he can't. Then the vest guy then grabbed Dave by the shirt, picked him up and gave him one big jab in the face.

"Dave then staggered and fell and went smack. I heard a crack when his head hit the floor.

"He was finding it funny. He was saying 'just carry on doing it'..." - witness Jamie Bailes

"The guy with the rucksack (Clement) was stood there laughing. He was finding it funny. He was saying 'just carry on doing it'."

Mr Bailes – whose mother gave evidence in the trial last week – said the men then just walked away leaving their victim on the floor.

"I was shaking and I was crying. My mum and I went to get the police then she told me to go home."

Polish-born Lukasz Michalski – who had met Thorne only days earlier – told the jury how he watched as Mr Wilkes was knocked to the ground by a blow from his friend.

He said: "I thought I heard a cracking noise as if something had cracked. I think that was his skull."

A plastic bag covers evidence in Canterbury's Dane John Gardens

A plastic bag covers evidence in Canterbury's Dane John Gardens

Speaking with the aid of an interpreter, Mr Michalski told how he had been invited to the gardens to meet some of Thorne's friends.

He said he then heard shouting and a group of men surrounding a man who was sitting on the ground, propped up against a fence.

"Lloyd was also shouting and I asked him why and he said this man had punched some woman, although I never saw that.

"One of the men was asking why he punched the woman and the man was saying, 'Leave me alone'.

"Lloyd was wanting to punish the man for hitting that woman," he added.

The entrance to Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

The entrance to Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

Mr Michalski said there were three people taking part in the attack - Thorne, an older man in his 50s and another younger man.

"They were punching him (Mr Wilkes) in the face, maybe eight to 10 times until he passed out. They were also all kicking him in the face and chest.

"Lloyd kicked him two or three times. But I wasn't really counting the kicks - I was caring about the (injured) man.

"I told Lloyd to leave him alone otherwise he would get himself in trouble. He just didn't reply. He was just being aggressive."

He told the jury Mr Wilkes was then shaken by the men and told to leave the park.

"He stood up because he said he wanted to go. He started to walk away, but was punched again. I told Lloyd again to leave him because he had had enough. I said: 'You have punished him for hitting the woman, we should go'."

The trial is being heard at Canterbury Crown Court

Barristers will also go on strike at Canterbury Crown Court

Mr Wilkes then fell down, but Thorne is alleged to have picked him up by the collar and delivered another blow knocking onto the concrete ground.

Mr Michelski added: "After I heard the cracking I said he was finished and we should go back home. I said that the guy was done.

"There was blood coming out of his mouth and nostrils. As we walked away Lloyd washed the blood from his hands in the fountain in the park. He told me the man might have infectious or contagious diseases."


Related stories

Friend tells of moment man knocked out

Jury taken to scene of 'deadly attack'

Murder probe after homeless man dies


Mr Wilkes died in a London hospital from his severe head injuries six days later without regaining consciousness.

The trial continues.


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