As we approach the supposedly joyful festival which is Christmas, it is maybe instructive to look at the sordid manslaughter case that is being held at the Old Bailey. Yesterday, Ruby Thomas, an 18 year old trainee beautician, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Ian Baynham, a 62 year old man, after she had kicked him in the head several times as he lay on the ground in Trafalgar Square, London, after he had been knocked unconscious by her friend, Joel Alexander, a 20 year old sports student.
Ian Baynham was the right man in the right place as far as Miss Thomas was concerned. He was with a male friend in Trafalgar Square after celebrating a new job in the civil service. His behaviour identified him to Miss Thomas as a homosexual and she, settled on him as the perfect target for her drunken abuse. She had already been filmed by CCTV cameras shouting abuse at heterosexual couples outside the National Gallery.
Mr Baynham appears to have taken offence at being called “a f***ing faggot” and, probably unwisely, answered back only to be kicked in the leg by Ruby Thomas who then tried to kick him in the genitals. In the ensuring shouting match, Joel Alexander, in some ill-advised gesture of chivalry, stepped in and punched Ian Baynham to the ground, fracturing his skull. Mr Baynham died in hospital 18 days later.
Trafalgar Square has been the setting for many great public and also not-so public celebrations for me and for many others over the years and in many ways it is the very centre of England. I particularly remember one rather inebriated New Year’s Eve celebration when my white suit ended up with black trousers up to above the knees – but I shall draw a veil over that. I have seen my share of drunken brawls too but this story has a particularly sordid but also unsurprizing flavour.
These young people, out on the town to have fun had everything to be happy about so why, need I ask, after a vicious mixture of vodka, cider and lager, should they, Miss Thomas, in particular, be filled with such hatred? Her defence council cited psychological issues following an ectopic pregnancy but she also has a conviction for common assault after attacking a bus driver, also near Trafalgar Square.
Depressingly, she illustrates a new British stereotype. Sadly, we have grown used to drunken lads picking fights in the street but slowly and surely we see more and more young, drunk and aggressive women doing the same. It is a new form of equality between the sexes but a distressing one no less.
Mr Alexander and Miss Thomas will be sentenced next month. I hope that, over Christmas, they will reflect on the real purpose of celebration and I hope that the rest of us will be allowed to enjoy our lives on the streets of Britain, without running the gauntlet of random and vicious attacks.
Those of you going to Trafalgar Square for a good time over the holiday season, try to remember Ian Baynham and all the other victims of drunken stupidity.
Have a great time.