Homeless man Lloyd Thorne pleads guilty to manslaughter of rough sleeper David Wilkes after attack at Dane John Gardens in Canterbury
A man has today changed his plea to guilty in a dramatic twist in the manslaughter trial of a rough sleeper attacked in Canterbury - as another defendant remains on trial.
The prosecution case against Lloyd Thorne was about to close when his barrister asked for the charge to be read out again.
This time - in front of the jury - the 22-year-old, of no fixed address, admitted the unlawful killing last summer.
Homeless David Wilkes died in hospital days after being attacked in a Canterbury park
He was then remanded in custody and a judge ordered psychiatric reports before sentencing him.
His co-accused, 50-year-old Peter Clement, who denies manslaughter, then went into the witness box at Canterbury Crown Court to give evidence.
He told the jury how he had punched and kicked Mr Wilkes after accusing him of being "a nonce" and hitting women.
Mr Wilkes was sat on a bench in Dane John Gardens when he was punched and kicked by Clement.
"I did it because he had hit women and because he swore at me," he said. "I hit him twice and kicked him once but they were not hard blows. I was drunk and we were swearing at each other."
It was then that Thorne and another man walked into the park and Liverpudlian Clement asked: "Don't I know you from the streets?"
A policeman guards the scene in Dane John Gardens in Canterbury
But he told the jury that he did not tell Thorne Mr Wilkes had hit women, but did watch as Thorne walked over to where Mr Wilkes was sitting on the bench.
"I then saw movement which I took to be punches being thrown. David Wilkes was standing up at the time. He (Thorne) had hold of him by the collar and there was movement like him being punched in the face and head.
"I hit him twice and kicked him once but they were not hard blows. I was drunk and we were swearing at each other..." - defendant Peter Clement
"David Wilkes went down and I heard a crack," he told the jury.
His barrister, Richard Barraclough QC, asked: "Did you expect Thorne to do that?"
QC: "Did you hear him (Thorne) say: 'I'm going to kill you?'"
Clement: "I do remember him saying that."
QC: "Did you encourage him in attacking David Wilkes?"
He said that after Mr Wilkes hit the ground he went over to see if he was OK and found him unconscious.
"I shook him, but he did not respond," Clement added.
Clement, of no fixed address, then left the park and asked a passer-by to call the police. He later told officers that he had "battered" Mr Wilkes.
He denied claims made by witnesses that he was seen laughing as Thorne carried out the brutal attack.
The prosecution has alleged Clements encouraged Thorne to join in the attack, which led to Mr Wilkes receiving fatal head injuries.
The 35-year-old died in hospital six days after losing consciousness.
The trial continues.
- Click here for more Canterbury news
- Click here for more news from across the county