A homeless man accused of beating a carer from Chelsea to death in Hyde Park has told jurors he was in a shop buying raisin pastries at the time of the killing.
Hani Khalaf, 22, allegedly kicked, punched and stamped on Jairo Medina near Speakers’ Corner on the evening of August 11 last year before stealing his mobile phone.
Mr Medina’s bruised and broken body was discovered early the next morning by a groundsman on his way to work.
Giving evidence in his Old Bailey trial on Friday (February 17) with the help of an interpreter, Khalaf said he arrived in Kent in the back of a lorry in August 2014 and pretended to be Syrian to claim asylum.
The Egyptian national stayed in a hostel for a few days but “lost his way” and ended up wandering the streets, sleeping rough in Hyde Park and stealing food and clothes to survive, he said.
On the day of the murder, Khalaf said he met Mr Medina on a park bench and asked him for cigarettes.
At around 11pm, the pair were captured on CCTV at a shop where the 62-year-old victim bought Khalaf a can of Red Bull and cigarettes.
They returned to the park and sat down together under a tree because Mr Khalaf said he thought the victim was “looking for someone to be friends”.
Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC said: “You said you thought he took pity on you. Did you think at any time he had any other interest in you?”
The defendant replied: “No.”
After about half an hour, Khalaf asked him for £5 so he could buy some food and promised to return, he said.
He told jurors he went to a convenience store called Zam Zam and bought six raisin pastries.
He went on: “When I went back I found him lying down on his stomach.
"I thought he was sleeping. I did not think I would find him like that. I went to him. I tapped on his shoulder but I did not hear any sound.
“I held him on both of his shoulders. I turned him, I looked at his face. I found his face full of blood. I knew he was dead.
“I was very scared. I was very terrified.”
Khalaf said he had blood on his hands and picked up the victim’s phone to raise the alarm but did not know who to call or how he could make himself understood.
The defendant, who did not understand much English, said he fled Hyde Park fearing the attacker might come after him too.
The jury had heard that Mr Medina was originally from Colombia and was a single gay man with a preference for young dark-skinned men.
He was described by his former partner as “a carefree and very generous person” who would go to Quebec gay bar in Marble Arch and would sometimes pay male prostitutes for sex.
Investigators found Khalaf’s DNA on Mr Medina’s rucksack and he was arrested on August 18.
The day before he met Mr Medina, Khalaf was arrested for shoplifting at the Superdry clothes shop in Regent Street and gave police the same name he told immigration.
He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was bailed hours before the killing.
He was arrested on August 16 for fare evasion and told police he was Hanni Hassan and later gave the name Khalaf.
On August 18 he was arrested again for shoplifting and taken to Charing Cross police station, where he was also detained on suspicion of murder.
Khalaf denies murder and the trial continues.
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