A witness to a brawl that ended with the death of Patrick Lawless changed his account after learning his friend’s condition was life threatening, a court heard.
Police arrested and interviewed Lance Bam the day after a fight broke out in Teddington High Street, on November 10, 2012.
Kingston Crown Court heard Mr Bam changed his account to police after officers told him his friend Mr Lawless was in a life threatening condition and would be kept on a life support machine until his mother returned from holiday in New Zealand to say her final goodbye.
When Mr Bam gave evidence he was asked to explain why he changed his account.
He said: “I was just really nervous and I thought Pat would have been all right. I thought he was going to live. I hoped he was going to live.
“He could deal with it in his own way. He could talk to them about it all. Maybe Pat Lawless couldn’t want to press criminal charges against someone he has known for years you know what I mean?”
The court heard Mr Bam was friends with Mr Lawless and had known Inigo Anderson since the age of 13, because they went to the same school.
Mr Bam told the court he was about 11ft away from Mr Lawless when Mr Anderson punched him.
He said: “They were both walking away both with their backs turned to me. I think Inigo was just in front of him but slightly to the right. He turned around as he swung.”
Defending Mr Anderson, Julian Wasket told the court Mr Lawless said to Mr Anderson “he thinks he’s a bad man. I’ll beat him up. He doesn’t want to fight me” and said he barged into Mr Anderson in an attempt to provoke a fight.
Mr Bam said: “I remember him [Mr Anderson] telling him [Mr Lawless] to go. He [Mr Anderson] asked me to take him [Lawless] home as well.
“He didn’t want to. To me at that time it didn’t seem like a situation that was going to end up like this. It didn’t seem very volatile.”
Mr Bam told the court that Mr Lawless’s character was such that he would not do something he did not want to do.
In police interview, he said: “When Pat gets drunk he doesn’t really listen to people and can be a bit much for some people and can be a bit rude as well.”
In police interview, Mr Bam said he thought Mr Anderson hit Mr Lawless with a fist but said it was a very quick action.
Mr Wasket asked Mr Bam if he had seen Mr Lawless raise his fists, as if to punch Mr Anderson, but Mr Bam agreed his attention was not fully focused on him and said he did not see it.
He said: “You have admitted that you were very drunk. Pat Lawless was very drunk.”
Defending Patrick Conway, Charles Miskin said to Mr Bam: “What you have done I would suggest you have toned down you have dumbed down the activities of Patrick Lawless that night haven’t you?”
Mr Miskin told the court Mr Bam told police Mr Lawless was aggressive and annoying, but in court he said this was not his recollection of his friend.
Mr Miskin read some of Mr Bam’s interview, which said: “I could see other people getting annoyed with him to the extent he might get hit again.
“I think he spat at someone there and it was all blood because he had just been bleeding.”
In court, Mr Bam told the jury he did not remember Mr Lawless spitting.
The court heard in his police interview that Mr Bam said of Mr Conways’s punch “it was exactly a heavy blow”.