Trial hears Brighton teenagers 'squared up' before fatal punch

The Argus: Teenager Connor Saunders died after a single punch was thrown Teenager Connor Saunders died after a single punch was thrown

A teenager described how Connor Saunders and the boy accused of killing him “squared up” to one another moments before the fatal punch was thrown.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, knows the defendant and was with him the night 19-year-old Connor was punched outside Tesco in West Street, Rottingdean, on April 14 this year.

He gave a video statement to Sussex Police detectives on April 17, which was aired at Hove Crown Court yesterday.

The boy told how Connor, who died hours after being punched, confronted him outside the supermarket before the defendant intervened.

Video statement

In the video statement the boy said Connor mistakenly believed that he and his friend – who also cannot be named – had thrown a Budweiser bottle in his direction.

Previously the court heard it was actually Connor’s friend Sam Sutton who threw this bottle.

The boy said: “He [Connor] came up to me and my friend and he said ‘Why did you throw that bottle at me?'

“He [Connor] was quite angry. His [Connor’s] friend came up and said ‘Leave them alone. They are 15. They have not done anything’.

“He [Connor] said ‘They are laughing at me’.

“[The defendant] and Connor squared up to one another.”

Bottle-throwing

Explaining about the bottle-throwing, the boy said: “I think his [Connor’s] friend was just messing around and threw it into the air and it smashed and he [Connor] thought we had thrown it.

“But that was not the case and that’s why Connor started talking to us. I don’t think whoever threw the bottle meant any harm.”

He said Connor was following them and saying “You’ve thrown a bottle” and it was at this point the defendant came over “to see what was going on”.

He continued: “[The defendant] was looking up at him [Connor] and Connor was looking down at him because Connor was quite a bit taller.

“Connor was saying ‘Do you want it? Do you want it?’ and [the defendant] was like ‘yeah’.

“His [the defendant’s] voice was quite high-pitched. There was a lot of fear in his voice.

“I thought it would be resolved normally. I did not see the punch coming.

“They were squaring up to each other. Connor came a lot closer.”

At this point the defendant punched Connor, the court heard.

He said: “Connor fell straight to the floor and hit his head. This is what has been upsetting me. His legs buckled.

“He fell and hit his head on the pavement. His eyes closed.”

Witness

He said he left at this point and only learnt about what happened the next day when he read The Argus website.

Kate Mears was in Tesco on the night of the attack. In her initial police statement she told officers Connor said “alright baldy” to a man in Tesco. She said the man replied: “That’s enough, leave it out.”

Yesterday she said this was a mistake and she did not hear Connor say this and had amended her statement as such.

Alan Kent, defending, suggesting she was lying.

He said: “You are simply inventing this because you do not want to say anything bad about Connor Saunders.”

A 14-year-old Brighton boy denies manslaughter and is in the custody of the local authority. The trial continues.

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