THE FIRST of four defendants charged with the murder of Stratford man Tristram Wallace has taken to the stand.
The 36-year-old is reported to have pleaded for mercy as he was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on during two 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.
But Neil Potter, 37, of Clopton Road, has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter – claiming he acted in self-defence.
Giving evidence at Birmingham Crown Court, Mr Potter described how he visited Stratford town centre on June 22 with his girlfriend to run some errands before she used his phone to contact a drug dealer.
He told the court they were both recovering addicts and had sought to buy drugs – arranging to meet a dealer in Bishopton during the afternoon.
The jury heard how his girlfriend, Florence Caines, had contacted the dealer and he said she was the only one to meet the dealer in person.
After getting what she thought was drugs, she returned to Mr Potter only to realise she had been scammed – as the ‘drugs’ were in fact curry powder and sugar.
Mr Potter said they called the dealer again in an effort to get their money back, but only said they wanted more drugs with plans to confront him when they met.
After arranging to meet at a pub in Stratford town centre, the pair hurried into town. But as they were walking down the Birmingham Road, Miss Caines spotted the supposed dealer – now known to be Tristram Wallace.
Mr Potter said he ran towards Mr Wallace before stopping in front of him on a pedestrian crossing and saying: “I don’t want any trouble. You’re a big guy. My girlfriend is just behind you and you have ripped her off.”
Mr Potter told the jury he was then punched by Mr Wallace twice in the head and a fight broke out with each of them landing punches on each other. He claimed Mr Wallace punched Miss Caines in the head twice during the same incident.
The defendant then described how he eventually overpowered Mr Wallace before Mr Jelf, who he described as an acquaintance, struck Mr Wallace over the head with a can of beer.
He explained it was at this point his attention went back to his girlfriend and to reclaim their possessions, which had sprawled out on the road during the brawl.
He 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 Mr Wallace on the floor.
However the prosecution said he had been identified by many witnesses as a “vicious attacker” who was seen “kicking and stamping the victim around 50 to 60 times.”
He refuted all claims of further violence and said his actions were completely in self-defence.
He was also questioned to his connection to his co-defendants with the prosecution arguing Mr Jelf, Mr Mallon and Miss Windsor had all been in on the deal, which was why they were eager to follow the pair and why they had become involved in the attack but Mr Potter denied this.
His police interview at the time of his arrest was also highlighted although Mr Potter said his account could have varied due to the effects of medication he was taking.
Prosecutor James Curtis QC ended his questioning saying: “This was not as you described. Many witnesses have come forward saying you were one of the main attackers and this was a punishment beating towards a man who may or may not have wronged you.
“The public tried to intervene but it was too late. Mr Wallace had gone into cardiac arrest and died. Your actions caused his death.”
The trial continues.