A ‘CROWD of vagrants’ hellbent on destroying Tristram Wallace attacked and killed him in what could have been a case of mistaken identity.
The 36-year-old, who lived in Solihull before moving to Stratford recently, suffered a cardiac arrest and is reported to have pleaded for mercy as he was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on during two separate attacks in broad daylight on the afternoon of June 22.
Toney Jelf, 39, and Peter Mallon, 42, both of no fixed abode, and Donna Windsor, 37, of Betjeman Road, all deny murder but have admitted the manslaughter of Mr Wallace.
Neil Potter, 37, of Clopton Road, has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter – claiming he acted in self-defence.
Giving evidence, Potter told the court he believed Mr Wallace to be a dealer who had sold fake drugs to him and his girlfriend Florence Caines.
After being identified by Caines as the supposed dealer while walking along Birmingham Road, Potter said he had attempted to challenge Mr Wallace but was punched by the Arden Street resident and a fight broke out between the pair.
The defendant then described how he eventually overpowered Mr Wallace before Jelf and Mallon became involved with their altercation spilling into a nearby traffic reservation.
Potter admitted going through Mr Wallace’s pockets to try and retrieve his money as he lay on the ground at a later stage but denied kicking or punching him while he was on the floor.
Delivering his closing speech to the jury at Birmingham Crown Court, prosecutor James Curtis QC, said Potter’s version of events was “utterly false.”
He told the court: “The Crown say Mr Wallace was not a drug dealer, not the person who double crossed the defendants.
“He was sauntering around town minding his own business only to find himself set upon by a crowd of vagrants who were hellbent on destroying him.
“If anyone found himself under attack that day it was Tristram Wallace. If anyone found themselves unable to defend themselves, it was him.”
Mr Curtis recounted eyewitness accounts to the jury – many of which, he said, highlighted Potter as being at the centre of the attack.
He argued it had been a joint enterprise with the three other defendants all playing a part – repeatedly punching, kicking and stamping on Mr Wallace.
Defending, Andrew Jefferies QC, maintained Potter had simply approached Mr Wallace with a view to confronting him over the alleged drugs scam.
He told the jury: “His case is that he was violent at the start but no more and it was others that took over. This case is not as clear cut or black and white as others say.”
Mr Jefferies pointed out how some witnesses had recalled seeing a ‘shaven haired man’ with black boots kicking and punching Mr Wallace.
And although he conceded Potter had a shaven head at the time of the attack, he said it was Mallon who had been wearing the black boots.
He added: “Mr Potter’s account has been in the main consistent. Eyewitnesses notoriously get things wrong. Might what he says be supported by others?
“If he was stamping on Mr Wallace over and over again and punching him multiple times, what would that do to the human body? Not what’s in these pictures. He’s supposed to have punched him over 100 times – it’s just not reliable evidence.”
* The jury in the murder trial have now retired to consider their verdict.
The Judge, the Hon Mr Justice Holroyde completed his summing up of the case around 2pm on Tuesday (May 3) and the jury was sent out to begin deliberations shortly afterwards.
A decision is imminent – check our website: www.solihullobserver.co.uk – for the latest.