Teenager accused of killing Leicester shop worker 'threw fatal punch in self-defence'
A teenager accused of killing a shop assistant has told a jury he threw a punch at the man in self-defence.
The defendant admitted striking father-of-two Ponnuthurai Nimalaraja, who then fell backwards and hit his head on a kerb.
He died in hospital a week later.
The 41-year-old, who was known as Nimal, had previously challenged a group of 14 and 15-year-olds who had been "messing about", running in and out of Leicester Stores, in Gipsy Lane, in the Northfields area of Leicester.
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Derby Crown Court was told the shop was closing shortly before 11pm on Saturday, June 9, when Mr Nimalaraja went after the youths, carrying a wooden board, telling them to go home or he would call the police.
The 15-year-old defendant, who can not be named for legal reasons, denies manslaughter.
Giving evidence in court yesterday, the teenager said: "I was standing opposite the shop when the two men from the shop came out. They were running as if they wanted a fight.
"I saw Nimal coming towards us. He was holding a plank of wood.
"He was holding it up as if he was going to swing it at someone. I thought he was going to hit one of us."
The defendant said Mr Nim alaraja dropped the wood as he got nearer.
"I said to him 'calm down, calm down'," the defendant told the court. He said Mr Nimalaraja then grabbed him.
"He had tight hold of my throat and left wrist," the defendant said. "I could see his face. He looked very angry. I threw the punch to get him off me.
"I was terrified. I did not know what he was going to do next.
"I did not want to hurt him."
When asked by his lawyer, Jason Bartfeld, how he felt when he heard Mr Nimalaraja had later died in hospital, the defendant said: "I was shocked, upset and really sorry."
Prosecutor James Thomas accused the defendant of lying about being grabbed.
He said: "You stepped forward and knocked him out as you had been threatening to do earlier."
The defendant replied: "No."
Mr Thomas told the court the victim suffered a broken left cheekbone, which would not have been possible had he had been holding the defendant by the throat.
The defendant reiterated that that was what had happened.
He admitted he was known as regular member of the group who had caused nuisance at the shop.
He also admitted being given a final warning by the police for pushing a shopkeeper with his fists in 2010.
The trial continues.