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Jury shown Dane John Gardens in Canterbury where David Wilkes was allegedly beaten unconscious by suspects Peter Clement and Lloyd Thorne

08 January 2014
by KentOnline reporter

A jury has visited a Canterbury peace garden where a man was violently attacked before dying days later.

Police officers sealed off Dane John Gardens for an hour while the seven women and five men were shown where David Wilkes was fatally wounded.

The jury, together with court staff, travelled from Canterbury Crown Court to the gardens by coach, where they were met by Judge Adele Williams and two QCs representing two men accused of manslaughter.

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

Peter Clement, 50, and Lloyd Thorne, 22, both of no fixed address, who deny the charge, chose not to travel to the park and remained in the court cells.

Earlier the jury had heard how 35-year-old Mr Wilkes had died in hospital six days after losing consciousness in the attack.

Prosecutor Robert Acheson alleged he had been punched and kicked – after the two had accused him of being “a wife beater”, “a paedo” and “a nonce”.

He said that Mr Wilkes had gone to the gardens with a female friend and her son and they were drinking strong lager and cider.

The jury heard how Clement, who had been wearing a green cap, was also there and at 7pm they were joined by two other men – one of them Thorne.

A policeman guards the scene in Dane John Gardens in Canterbury. Picture Paul Amos

A policeman guards the scene in Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

“After Clement talked to them he returned to where Mr Wilkes was sat near a perimeter fence in the peace garden.

“He approached him and asked him: “Why do you hit women?” He then punched him in the ribs, “ he claimed.

It was then that Thorne joined in the attack and struck Mr Wilkes “six or seven times” in the face before picking him up, “holding him up and striking him again”, the prosecutor alleged.

Mr Acheson added: “That one punch knocked him prone to the floor and caused him to hit his head on the paved area below .

“An eye-witness then saw Thorne stand over him, effectively gesturing for more, while saying words to the effect that he was going to finish him.

Entrance to Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

The entrance to Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

“It is clear from the eye-witness account that once Mr Wilkes had gone to ground and hit his head on the floor he never showed any signs of consciousness from that moment on,” added the prosecutor.

He told the jury that another witness revealed how Clement “began getting larey” and claimed Mr Wilkes was “ a wife-beater and a paedo” .

Clement was also alleged to have laughed as Thorne joined in the assault, kicking and punching before picking up Mr Wilkes “ and punching him down again”.

Thorne’s friend, a man from Poland, saw the last blow and told him to leave the area “saying:’He is done’.

The two then walked away where Thorne washed his bloodied hands in the fountain, it was claimed.

Police and paramedics were called and Mr Wilkes was taken initially to the William Harvey Hospital and three hours later was transferred to the Kings College Hospital in London where he died six days later.

Dane John Gardens in Canterbury

Stalker David Ward first spotted his student victim in Canterbury's Dane John Gardens

“He never regained consciousness from the moment his head hit that paving stone and active support for his life was withdrawn on July 29."

The prosecutor showed then showed the jury a photograph of “David Albert Wilkes" adding: "He was born October 14 1977 and he died from a severe head injury.”

Clement, who was at the scene when police arrived, was allegedly heard to say: “I battered the guy because he was a nonce.”

Later at the police station he is alleged to have added: “I would have got away with that assault if I hadn’t had owned up to it.”

The trial continues.

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