The parents of a young man who died after a fight outside a bar have spoken of their family’s ordeal on the first anniversary of his death.
Paul Baker, 25, died on May 8 last year after cracking his head on the pavement outside The Lounge bar in Chislehurst.
Four men accused of his manslaughter and violent disorder were all found not guilty at the Old Bailey last month.
Paul’s parents Leslie and Janet, who moved from Sidcup to Bromley last year, said the lengthy court process had not allowed them time to grieve yet.
Mr Baker said: “The hardest part was having to turn off the life support machine at Queen Mary’s Hospital. You don’t expect to bury one of your own children.”
They said Paul’s younger brothers Mark and Christopher and sister Jennifer had been left devastated by his death.
The couple said they were “shocked” after the verdicts and felt the trial had painted their son in a bad light.
Mrs Baker said: “We are living in hell and no one should have to go through this.
“Our children saw their brother take his last breath when the life support machine was turned off. I wanted to die with him.
“We kissed and held Paul’s hand, stroked his head and cuddled him. We were all there with Paul until the end.”
She said: “Paul is the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of when I go to bed. The whole family has been destroyed.
“The pain is too much. All the things that we have had to do, going to Paul’s house, so empty now. I folded and took back all of Paul’s clothes, I cried so much, I could still smell Paul.
“I now have them put in a chest of drawers, which I do open sometimes and I can still smell Paul on the clothes.”
The family did not see Paul’s body again until July 15 last year, before he was laid to rest. His nephew, who is named after him, was born on the same day.
Mark, the baby’s father, read at the funeral: “If little Paul is half the man his uncle was, then I will be very proud.”
Paul’s brothers continue to run the kitchen fitter business that he set up before he died.
The family has received hundreds of tributes from friends and former customers who knew their son.
*PAUL Baker’s family are holding a charity auction evening to raise funds for the head injuries unit at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup.
The event will take place on what would have been Paul’s 27th birthday, on May 30, from 6.30pm at the Marriott Hotel, Bexleyheath.
Paul’s friend Emma King recently raised £850 for the same cause by walking 20 miles from London’s Albert Bridge to the Thames Barrier.
For more information visit www.paulbakercharity.co.uk or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.