Surrey traveller ‘murder sparked by punch machine photo’

Quhey Saunders was killed when he clashed with his cousin at a service station in June

A traveller who battered his second cousin to death with a plasterer’s whisk told a court he feared for his life after seeing his victim’s high score on an arcade punching machine.

Simon Baker, 22, claims he lashed out in self-defence after seeing Facebook posts of Quhey Saunders, 20, posing next to the ‘test your strength’ machine with a score of 950.

Baker and his cousin Mikey Coyle, 21, had been out on the road looking for roofing work when they saw Mr Saunders and his friends at Cobham Services in Surrey on 26 June.

CCTV footage shows the pair scuffling with the victim before going back to their white van and arming themselves with building tools at around 3pm.

Baker insists Mr Saunders threatened to kill him and says he only picked up the heavy duty steel whisk to ‘scare’ his cousin away.

He told Old Bailey jurors he backed away from Mr Saunders and accidentally smashed the tool 10cm into his brain when he was ‘trapped’ in an area out of sight of security cameras.

His killer claims he acted in self-defence after seeing a photo of Mr Saunder's high score on a test of strength arcade machine

His killer claims he acted in self-defence after seeing a photo of Mr Saunder’s high score on a test of strength arcade machine

James Scobie, QC, defending Baker, asked: ‘Did you want to use that whisk on him?’

The alleged killer replied: ‘No, I never wanted to use that whisk, never did want to use that whisk.

‘I just wanted Quhey to get scared of it and leave me alone.’

Mr Scobie asked about Mr Saunders’s punching power, adding: ‘We saw some of the pictures that were on the Facebook posting of him giving a 950 on the hitting, punching, some machine.

‘Do you know what the maximum is?’

Baker replied: ‘I’m sure that maximum is 1,000, yeah.’

Mr Scobie said: ‘How hard is that?’

The defendant answered: ‘Very hard.’

The fight which led to Mr Saunders's death broke out at Cobham services in Surrey

The fight which led to Mr Saunders’s death broke out at Cobham services in Surrey

Baker said: ‘Quhey was coming at me in fighting stance, he wants the fight so obviously he’s trying to hit me, he looked like he kept trying to line me up.’

As jurors watched CCTV footage leading up to the fatal blow, Baker said: ‘I never wanted to hurt Quhey at any stage, I’m backing off as much as I can, I’m trying to stop, I didn’t want to engage at all. I’m trapped in a corner, got nowhere else to go.’

Asked to describe the strike that killed Mr Saunders, the defendant said: ‘I just pushed past Quhey, pushed away from him and ran out as fast as I can into the van.’

The murder suspect insisted he had no idea Mr Saunders was injured as he sped away from the scene in his white van after dropping the whisk.

Saunders was airlifted to hospital but the edge of the whisk had penetrated his brain and caused a three inch gash and he died three days later.

Baker, of Redhill, Surrey, and Coyle, of Kingston, south-west London, both deny murder. The trial continues.


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