A MAN accused of killing a web designer by punching him outside a Leamington bar, causing fatal brain injuries when he fell and hit his head, has gone on trial.
Vijay Masih accepts landing a punch to Rugby man Robert Bavington’s jaw during the incident in April last year – but claims he had acted in self-defence, a jury has heard.
Mr Masih, of Brook Road, Willenhall, Wolverhampton, has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the manslaughter of 28-year-old Mr Bavington, a web designer from Rugby.
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith told the jury Mr Bavington was out with friends on Saturday April 9 was out with friends in Leamington, as was Mr Masih.
“They had never met before, but that night their paths were to cross with fatal consequences.”
Mr Grieves-Smith explained Mr Masih and his group had arrived at the Moo Bar in Russell Street at about 12.20am with Mr Bavington and his friends arriving at the bar 15 minutes later.
The trigger which led to the tragic outcome appeared to have been an argument between young women in the two groups,
after two of them stumbled over the feet of Ms Paul as they came back inside from where people had been smoking.
They did not believe it was an accident and an argument started.
Mr Bavington’s sister Amy tried to stop it, and a doorman and one of Masih’s friends, Devindra Samra, stood between Miss Paul and the other two women.
Although the argument seemed to have subsided there was then a further confrontation between Mr Masih and Miss Paul.
Mr Masih, who had been inside when the argument began, came out and spoke to Mr Samra and the two women before speaking to a doorman, possibly to try to get back in.
Mr Bavington did go back inside, shaking hands with Mr Samra on his way, which seemed to show things were cooling down.
But he and Miss Paul came back out after a couple of minutes, and a CCTV recording showed Miss Paul and Mr Masih arguing.
Mr Grieves-Smith said throughout Mr Bavington was acting as “peacemaker” and there was no evidence he was joining in the argument.
Describing what the CCTV footage showed, Mr Grieves-Smith said Mr Bavington then led Miss Paul away towards Warwick Street.
But Mr Masih followed, caught up with them, and they stopped on the pavement.
“The defendant punched Robert Bavington. Immediately he fell backwards and hit his head, and suffered fatal injuries. If only Mr Masih had not walked after them.
“One member of the Bavington group saw a blow struck by the defendant which he says was not in self-defence.”
The incident was also seen by other people including two street pastors, who offer care to people in towns at night.
One of them described Mr Masih shouting at Miss Paul, and Mr Bavington standing between them before being pushed by Miss Paul, causing him to stumble.
He then got back in front of her, and it was then the street pastor described Mr Masih punching him, causing him to fall.
“Other people who were walking past also describe a punch which was not in self-defence, and heard the rather shocking sound of Mr Bavington’s head hitting the ground, and Mr Masih walking away saying ‘I ******* told him,’” said Mr Grieves-Smith.
He pointed out another witness talked of hearing Masih saying: “That’s what happens when you **** with me.”
And he told the jury: “If you’re sure of those words, you will have to consider how they fit with a claim of self-defence.”
It was obvious to paramedics who were quickly on the scene that Mr Bavington had a very severe head injury, and he was taken to hospital where he was given a CT scan.
Despite efforts to save him, Mr Bavington, who was the managing director of a web design and digital marketing company called Fly Full Circle in Coventry, died at shortly after6am, having suffered a skull fracture and severe injuries to his brain.
Meanwhile, Mr Masih had been arrested within a few minutes, and when he was first interviewed, he made no comment, but in a further interview he asserted he had acted in self-defence.
He said he had followed the couple because he ‘wanted to make everything alright and to make up,’ but that Miss Paul’s response was to become aggressive and to lash out.
Mr Masih said Mr Bavington said ‘******* idiot,’ which he thought was directed at him, with his arms ‘slightly rising.’
“I just wanted him to back off. I was worried in case I was going to get hit. I just remember hitting him. I thought they were both going to attack,” Mr Masih added.
And Mr Grieves-Smith told the jury: “It comes down to why the defendant was following them. Was it to have a chat? We say the blow was entirely without justification.”