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Prosecution case closes in Connor Saunders trial
A 14-year-old boy accused of killing Connor Saunders by punching him in the street did not have to hit him, a jury was told yesterday (November 1).
The youth, who denies manslaughter, may have been “all too happy to help” when friends got into an argument with 19-year-old Connor, Hove Crown Court was told.
During his closing speech, Oliver Dunkin, prosecuting, said: “[The defendant] is here because of evidence, including his own, he had no need to hit that young man and certainly with that force.
"He assaulted him, and his assault led to the death of Connor Saunders.”
Mr Dunkin said the youth, who the court has ruled is too young to be named, had found himself a “spare part” as Connor attracted the attention of the girls he was with on the night of April 14.
Mr Dunkin said: “It was not Connor Saunders’s fault that he was more interesting to be around.”
The youth and his friends, and Connor and his friends, had come together outside the Tesco Express in West Street, Rottingdean.
It was after Connor confronted the defendant’s friends that the boy stepped in and punched him.
Connor fell to the ground and banged his head. He died at Royal Sussex County Hospital the next day.
Mr Dunkin told the jury: “No-one is suggesting for one second that [the defendant] meant the consequences of his punch, nor to cause really serious harm to Connor Saunders.
"That punch had meaning behind it and it wasn’t just an argument over a bottle. [The defendant’s] evidence is vague, incoherent, in part, frankly senseless.”
He said that while Connor was “in broad terms, drunk” he asked the jury to decide “whether his state was anything more than a normal Saturday night out for millions – and not the ones you see on Crimewatch”.
Alan Kent QC, defending, told the court: “What you have here are two families who have been torn apart by this traumatic event.”
He said Mr Saunders was “hostile and aggressive” and the youth believed he was in danger when he struck him.
Mr Kent said: “Think about what Connor Saunders’s last words were and what his last actions were, and the manner in which he delivered his last words and his last actions.
“Connor Saunders was acting aggressively that night, in the minutes leading up to his death.
“It is the clearest evidence that his manner and his behaviour caused [the defendant] to fear immediate violence to himself at that point.”
The court is not sitting today. The jury is expected to begin its deliberations next week.
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