Murder trial opens into the death of Great Yarmouth man Ian Church

Murder trial opens into the death of Great Yarmouth man Ian Church

A man has gone on trial for the murder of a 40-year-old male who was kicked to death in Great Yarmouth.

Ian Church was found unconscious outside the Bricklayers Arms on May 5, 2012, having been attacked by a group of people in the early hours of the morning.

He suffered a bleed on the brain and died two days later after his life support machine was switched off.

Stuart Layden, 33, appeared before a Norwich Crown Court jury yesterday charged with his murder.

In an opening statement, prosecutor Annabel Darlow said: “The [prosecution] case is that Stuart Layden was one of the group that attacked Mr Church and caused his death.

“The other people in that group, Todd Esherwood, Tony Smith and Kelly Taylor, have already been convicted by a jury on an earlier occasion.”

The court heard how Layden, of The Briars, Harlow, in Essex, had been part of a large group of people drinking in the town on May 4, 2012.

But trouble started later that evening following an altercation between Esherwood and Mr Church’s friend, Peter Blake, at the pub.

Miss Darlow told the jury how this moment was the “catalyst” for what happened later. She said: “Peter Blake left the pub and walked down Nelson Road and met up with Ian Church, and clearly told him what had happened. They then made the brash decision to arm themselves and return to the Bricklayers Arms.”

The pair, carrying a wooden bar and a machete, approached the pub and smashed a window. This resulted in Layden’s group coming out of the premises to confront the pair. The court heard Mr Blake was knocked to the ground, before the group turned its attention to Mr Church.

Miss Darlow said: “Although he [Mr Church] was armed with a machete, he was clearly outnumbered by a large, hostile group, clearly intent on violence.”

The court heard Layden had allegedly punched the victim on the back of the head before the others started attacking him.

Referring to a statement made by Anna Brooks, who was in the pub at the time, Miss Darlow added: “She had tried to call the police, but was stopped by Layden’s girlfriend [Louise White], who told her, ‘Don’t you dare’. She recalls Louise coming back into the pub crying, saying how she had to ‘pull Stuart off him’.”

In her statement, Miss Brooks said she only saw Smith and Esherwood kicking Mr Church, while Taylor was sitting on him.

Mr Church suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital unconscious. He died on May 7.

The trial continues.

This article was provided by Great Yarmouth Mercury.

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