TRISTRAM Wallace was savagely beaten to death in Stratford town centre in an attack by four people likened to a “pack of wolves”, a jury has heard.
The 36-year-old was said to have pleaded for mercy as he was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on during two separate attacks over a ten minute period in broad daylight.
On the opening day of the trial at Birmingham Crown Court, defendants Toney Jelf, 39, and Peter Mallon, 42, both of no fixed abode, and Donna Windsor, 37, of Betjeman Road, all denied murder but pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Wallace.
And 37-year-old Neil Potter, of Clopton Road, also denied murder – claiming he acted in self-defence.
James Curtis, prosecuting, told the jury the attack was the result of the mistaken belief Mr Wallace had cheated them out of a drugs deal.
He said some 30 shocked people witnessed the sustained attack, which brought traffic to a standstill at the junction of Arden Street and Birmingham Road, in the late afternoon of June 22.
Describing the attack, Mr Curtis said: “It was a punishment beating fuelled by drink and or drugs in which an innocent man was punched and kicked in full view of a great many members of the public.”
He explained Mr Wallace had been going about his business in town when approached by Mr Potter who stood and blocked his path. An argument broke out and Mr Wallace threw a punch at Mr Potter before two other men joined him in attacking Mr Wallace raining punches on him.
But after managing to escape to nearby Brewery Street, Mr Wallace was subjected to a further attack in which he continued to be kicked, punched and stamped on by the three men and Miss Windsor who had joined them.
“Courageous members of the public attempted to stop the attackers and Mr Wallace was heard to be crying out for help but these defendants were merciless and they killed him,” said Mr Curtis.
The group then attempted to loot his body – rifling through his clothes and personal belongings – as he lay semi-conscious and dying on the ground.
On hearing police sirens, the defendants fled but were quickly arrested.
The court was shown pictures of Mr Wallace’s injuries, which included a broken nose and around 50 cuts and bruises to his legs, arms and head.
The jury was also told how, despite the defendants’ allegation Mr Wallace had cheated them out of money over a drug deal, he was never suspected as being a drug user and no traces of drugs or alcohol were found in his system following his death.
The court heard Mr Wallace thought he had been stabbed such was the difficulty he had breathing after the attack by the group, which one witness likened to “a pack of wolves.”
Arden Street resident Mr Wallace died of heart failure at the scene.
The jury was shown CCTV footage of Mr Wallace and the defendants in the run up to the attack as well as a video shot on a mobile phone by a witness in the final moments before he died.
Blood stains matching the DNA of Mr Wallace were found on the body and clothes of both Neil Potter and Peter Mallon in the aftermath, the prosecution said.
All the defendants were “under the influence of something” according to witnesses.
The trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks, continues.