A TEENAGER has denied kicking a man who died from brain injuries ten days after a street assault in York.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, yesterday told a murder trial jury that victim Keith Wright had kicked him first and that he pushed him back, but meant him no harm.
He said Mr Wright slipped on some slush near the kerb and fell on to his back.
He told Leeds Crown Court he had been with his co-accused, Liam Wyard, in Acomb Road on January 21 when Wyard, 20, said he was going to urinate behind some shops.
The teenager said he then looked up and saw Wyard at the bus stop and Mr Wright in front of him and the pair began moving on to the road. The teenager told his counsel, Simon Medland QC, he had never seen Mr Wright before and he had no grudge against him.
He said he went and stood between the two of them because Wyard had been trying to pick fights earlier and the police had twice moved them on when they had been drinking together.
He said: “I didn’t want nowt to happen, I didn’t want to get arrested.
“The man must have thought I was going to attack him. He was, like, throwing his legs about and they connected with me.
“It must have been obvious I knew Liam; he must have felt endangered by me.”
He told the jury one kick caught him in the private parts and the other on the side of his back.
“I pushed the man in the chest and he went back. There was slush near the kerb and he slipped on it and went on to his back.”
Asked why he had pushed Mr Wright, he said: “Because I didn’t want him to kick me again. He like slipped and his legs went up. I can remember he started to get back up.”
The teenager said Wyard was standing behind the man and looked as though he was going to leave so he walked a way as well and did not see what happened.
“When you pushed Mr Wright, did you mean him any harm?” asked Mr Medland.
“No,” replied the accused.
He also responded with “no” when asked if he meant him any really serious injury or intended him to die.
“Did you kick him to the head or anything?” asked Mr Medland.
“No,” replied the teenager.
Wyard, of no fixed address, and the teenager both deny the murder of Mr Wright, who died in hospital on January 31. Wyard has admitted manslaughter, which the teenager denies.
Wyard did not give evidence or call any in his defence.
Peter Moulson QC, defending, confirmed to Judge Guy Kearl QC that Wyard had been advised that the jury may draw inferences from his failure to testify. The 17-year-old agreed under cross-examination by Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, that he had been drunk earlier but said he was sobering up at the time.
He agreed Wyard was aggressive as well as drunk, shouting at people at random and trying to pick fights. When he stepped in between him and Mr Wright he had told Wyard to “calm down”, he said.
He denied they had been “circling” the other man, “mocking and taunting him”.
Mr Wright said: “He was put to the floor and kicked first by Liam and then by you.”
“No,” replied the accused.
The trial continues.