A man whose ‘mindless violence’ led to the death of web designer Robert Bavington, who hit his head on the ground when he was felled by a single punch in Leamington, has been jailed.
Vijay Masih had denied the manslaughter of 28-year-old Mr Bavington, who had been trying to act as a peacemaker, claiming at Warwick Crown Court that he had acted ‘in panic’ in self-defence.
But his story was rejected by the jury, and after they returned their unanimous guilty verdict, Masih, 31, of Brook Road, Willenhall, Wolverhampton, was jailed for six years.
The tragic incident took place in the street near to the Moo Bar in Russell Street, Leamington, where the two men, who did not know each-other, had been drinking in different groups.
There was an incident in the smoking area outside which led to a confrontation between Mr Bavington’s girlfriend Lauren Paul and two of the young women in Masih’s group, his cousins Sabrina and Reena Masih.
Mr Bavington tried to calm things down and shook hands with a member of Masih’s group – but when Masih then came out of the bar, Miss Paul became involved in a heated argument with him.
“The position of Robert Bavington throughout all of this was that he was trying to make things stay as calm as he could.
“There was no evidence Robert Bavington was joining in. He was there as a peacemaker,” said prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith, who told the jury Mr Bavington then led Miss Paul away.
“Vijay Masih was by the door, standing next to the doorman. If only he had stayed there...but he didn’t.
“He walked in the same direction. He followed them and caught up with them, and they stopped on the pavement.”
After being pushed to the chest by Miss Paul, Masih punched Mr Bavington, causing him to fall backwards and hit his head, causing fatal injuries from which he died a few hours later.
As Masih walked away he was heard to say ‘I f***ing told him,’ while another witness talked of hearing Masih say: “That’s what happens when you f*** with me.”
Mr Bavington, who lived in Rugby and was the managing director of a web design and digital marketing company called Fly Full Circle, based in Fargo Village, Coventry, had suffered a skull fracture and severe injuries to his brain.
After the jury returned its verdict, Mr Grieves-Smith said Masih had a conviction for battery 12 years ago, and for kidnapping and assault, for which he had been jailed for three-and-a-half years at Wolverhampton Crown Court in 2008.
John Butterfield QC, defending, said Masih had been on an electronically-tagged curfew since his arrest, and half of that time, 214 days, will count towards the time he has to serve.
After passing sentence, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones told Mr Bavington’s family: “No sentence can be put as an equivalent value on anyone’s life.
“You have all got a lot to offer. Although there will always be an emptiness and pain in your lives, you must live it to the full to honour him and to make sure his life is a cause of ambition to you, and not regret.”
The judge paid tribute to Mr Bavington’s sister Amy, who gave evidence in the trial, commenting: “When she gave evidence I made a little note that I was very impressed with her. I wrote ‘dignified, courageous and truthful.’
“If she is a chip off the same block as Robert was, what a loss.”