A 24-year-old man was bludgeoned to death with a horseshoe after arguing with a group of people playing a boombox on an Elizabeth Line train from London.
Thomas Parker, his brother 27-year-old Craig Parker, and two friends got into an argument with 42-year-old Kirkpatrick Virgo and two others while taking the train from London, where they had been watching a football match, back home to Reading.
Craig Parker had asked one of Virgo’s companions to turn down music said to be blaring loudly from a boombox, leading to a verbal altercation in which Virgo allegedly demanded “Do you want to die tonight?” and called the elder Parker a “batty boy” — a slur for a homosexual male.
Off-duty police officers intervened to deescalate the argument between the groups on two separate occasions, but left the train believing the matter was settled — despite one of Virgo’s group having allegedly warned the Parkers: “Watch what happens when you get off this train.”
Sure enough, CCTV footage shows that when the brothers did get off the train in the town of Reading, west of London, Virgo followed them holding a heavy metal horseshoe — which had been hidden in his bag — and struck an unsuspecting Thomas Parker in the back of the head with it in what proved to be a killing blow.
Detective Sergeant Keith Bowen, one of the officers who had separated the Parkers’ group from Virgo’s group earlier in the evening, said it was “an argument over loud music. The way it ended like that is madness. It was just lots of verbal insults towards each other. I was shocked at how it escalated.”
Virgo was initially pursued and tackled to the ground by Craig Parker, a former rugby player, after the killing, before being detained by security guards until the police arrived.
Virgo alleged to arresting officer PC Aaron Petford that he had been called “a black c***” — the Parker brothers were white — but court reports give no indication that this allegation was substantiated.
“The defendant says that he removed the horseshoe from his bag because he feared that he was going to be attacked when he got off the train. He does accept that at no point did he act in self-defence,” prosecutor Tahir Khan KC explained to jurors.
“When he and Tom Parker came together, he says that Tom racially abused him and spat on him and he lashed out.
“We say that’s a lie of course. He must have understood what he did and that Thomas was in no condition to defend himself as he was attacked from behind. This was murder, we say.”
Virgo admits manslaughter and possession of an offensive weapon but has denied the murder charge.
The trial continues.