An international banker fell to the pavement “like a plank of wood” after he was fatally assaulted by a complete stranger while on a night out in the West End of London, a court heard. Paul Mason, 52, CEO for Qatar National Bank, dined at the exclusive Ivy Club before he was killed by electrician Steven Allan, 34, on December 15, 2020. Mr Allan, of Hook, Hampshire, who admits manslaughter but denies murder at the trial at the Old Bailey, had been drinking in various bars and accused Mr Mason of stealing his friend’s mobile phone before knocking him to the ground. As Mr Mason tried to get up Mr Allan hit him with an uppercut and witnesses heard the sickening crunch as his skull made contact with the pavement, the court heard. Mr Allan, who was traced via CCTV, shouted at his victim “where’s your fight now?” as Mr Mason lay senseless, the Old Bailey heard.
Doctors battled to save Mr Mason and even carried out a procedure to replace part of his skull with a sheet of titanium, but he died six months later on 4 June 2021.
On the night in question Mr Mason had put a female friend in a black cab after they had spent the night at the Ivy Club and was making his way home in West Street when he was confronted by Mr Allan after 10.30pm, the court heard.
Mr Mason tried to continue his journey but Mr Allan followed him and punched him with his right fist, knocking him to the ground, the court heard. Jane Bickerstaff, KC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey: “He appears then to lean down towards Mason, who is at the same time trying to shrug him off and move away from the defendant.
“The defendant then punched Mr Mason a second time while he was trying to get back to his feet. He then punches him a third time with an upper cut that causes Mr Mason to fly back and land on his back with his head hitting the pavement. The defendant then appears to take Mr Mason’s phone from him and makes off.
Ms Bickerstaff said however there was no evidence of any property was missing from Mr Mason’s person.
Ms Bickerstaff said: “She saw that as Mr Mason went to the floor for the final time, his head hit the floor making a loud sound. She recalls that as she sought to help the victim, the defendant said to her, something like, “Don’t touch him or help him. You don’t know what he did. He’s kidnapped my nephew.”
Another witness, Vaki Dhaval, was on his way home after having a meal with friends saw that Mr Mason with his hand in front of him in a defensive manner telling Allan to ‘stay away.’
Ms Bickerstaff said: “He saw the assault and heard Mr Allan say, after he had punched the victim to the ground, “Where is your fight now? Show me your fight now!”
“He saw that the defendant continued shouting as if he was trying to see if there was any possibility to continue the attack.”
Eyewitness Gary McGuinness told the court he had been drinking with a friend he had not seen since February 2020 in a Brewdog pub.
Because London was in Tier Three Covid restrictions, they had a meal with their drinks and all the pubs closed at 10.30pm.
Mr McGuinness said that when he left the pub and waited outside for his friend to use the toilet he saw three men talking in the street.
He said he saw Mr Allan who approached him before the confrontation with Mr Mason happened.
He said Allan then disappeared from the scene while members of the public tried to help Mr Mason.
Mr Allan denies murder. The trial continues.