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GBH trial: 'Man brain damaged after being punched to floor'
A NIGHT clubber was left permanently brain damaged after being floored by a ‘massive punch’ in High Wycombe town centre, a court heard.
Victim Thomas Harding, 22, had been trying to get in a taxi on Castle Street last summer when he received a torrent of abuse about his sexuality from two girls, Aylesbury Crown Court heard this week.
He was then knocked to the floor by a black rubbish bag thrown at him by one of the girls, jurors heard, before getting up and being approached “calmly” by 18-stone Alexander Wilson, of Totteridge Lane, High Wycombe.
Three witnesses, including a taxi driver and two members of staff at the Pizza Go Go takeaway, saw 24-year-old Wilson knock Mr Harding down with a single punch to the head, before the group ran off, jurors heard.
Mr Harding, who is tall and thin, suffered a fractured skull and was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery, the court heard.
Surgeons were able to remove a blood clot, but he is likely to remain disabled and in need of long term care, due to the punch or subsequent fall to the ground, the court heard.
Mr Harding, described as a ‘young gay man’, had been thrown out of Scorpios Bar in Crendon Street in the early hours of July 29 after being drunk and aggressive, the court heard.
He was alone while trying to get a taxi in Castle Street at about 1.45am when the group of four approached from the Frogmoor area.
There had been a ‘history’ of physical confrontation between Mr Harding and one of the girls in the group, Madeleine Pecko, who was shouting abuse and hurled a bin bag from a skip, the court heard.
Wilson, who has denied a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm [GBH], today told jurors that Mr Harding was hit by the rubbish bag and he went over to “see if he was okay”.
“As soon as I approached him [Mr Harding] his eyes sort of locked on to me and that’s where the abuse started”, Wilson told jurors.
“He was telling me he was going to cut me. He then spat in my face... I thought he was going to use or produce a weapon. In that split second I was scared for my life. I really believed he was going to produce a weapon and use it upon me. After he spat at me he went for his waist.”
Wilson, who was sober, said he threw his hand out to ‘stun’ Mr Harding and give himself time to run away, but denied this was a ‘punch’. He added: “As soon as I hit him I ran. I was frightened he was chasing me.”
None of the witnesses saw Mr Harding being abusive or aggressive towards Mr Wilson, though his face was turned away from them, jurors heard.
Wilson, along with his friend and the two girls ran “like a herd of animals” to his black Volkswagen Golf which was parked in a driveway next to Neales taxis in Corporation Street, the court heard.
When questioned about CCTV footage which shows him covering his face as he runs, Wilson said: “Obviously there was quite a big crowd outside the taxi place. I was scared that somebody might see me... I didn’t know what to do.”
Moments after the group ran down the small driveway, a black car with tinted windows and alloy wheels came ‘revving’ out at speed and turned up the hill, jurors heard.
Wilson said he did not know Mr Harding or the two girls, but had agreed to give the girls a lift home from Yates’s nightclub in Frogmoor, as he recognised one as a neighbour.
The court heard Wilson lost his job at a phone shop after police traced his car and arrested him on the evening of July 29.
He later gave two ‘no comment’ interviews on the advice of a solicitor, the court heard.
Giving evidence yesterday, Madeleine Pecko, better known as ‘Mimi’, claimed she was exchanging “general banter” with Mr Harding before throwing the bin bag.
She told jurors: “I picked up a bag and threw it....I know it was stupid. I didn’t throw it at Tom. I was aiming at the floor.”
Both she and her partner Abigail Hornsby claimed not to have seen anything happen after this, until Wilson ‘jogged’ past them and they followed down Corporation Street.
Defence barrister Michael Wolkind QC called the pair’s performance in the witness stand “an embarrassment”, arguing Miss Pecko’s “gutless refusal” to accept she threw the bin bag at Mr Harding had harmed Wilson’s case.
The trial continues.