Teenager claims he tried to stop fight where Beniamin Pieknyi was stabbed to death
PUBLISHED: 17:25 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 27 September 2018
A teenager accused of stabbing a 21-year-old to death in Stratford told the courts he tried to stop a mass brawl that broke out.
Alexis Varela, 19, of Lillechurch Road, Dagenham, denies violent disorder and the manslaughter of Beniamin Pieknyi who was attacked inside the Stratford Centre on March 20 this year.
Moses Kasule, 20, of Ribbons Walk, Stratford, Kevin Duarte, 19, of no fixed address, and Mario Zvavame, 18, of Crow Lane, Romford, are jointly charged with manslaughter and violent disorder.
They all deny the charges.
Mr Varela, who moved to England from Portugal five years ago, told the Old Bailey that he did not want to see the violence unfolding.
“I knew something was going to happen so I tried to say stop,” he said.
“People were fighting and I tried to stop more getting involved.
“I didn’t want there to be a fight, I wasn’t happy to see the violence.”
Mr Varela had met up with his friends in Stratford Park earlier that evening, before going to the Stratford Centre just before 9.30pm.
They were joined by Vlayslav Yakymchuk, 23, who has previously pleaded guilty to Mr Pieknyi’s murder.
The court heard Mr Pieknyi was with his friend Alexander Suciu, 25, when they were approached by Mr Varela riding a bike with his cousin, Mr Duarte, on the handlebars.
While the victim entered Poundland to buy drinks, the riders approached Mr Suciu again. CCTV footage shows Mr Suciu approach the figures on the bike, who dismount.
A fight broke out soon after between the whole group, with Mr Pieknyi leaving Poundland to come to his friend’s aid. Footage shows Mr Yakymchuk taking Mr Suciu’s glasses, which Mr Varela stamps on.
A security arrived to break up the fight, which continued further down the shopping centre, outside Subway, where Mr Piekyni was stabbed.
Mr Pieknyi, a takeaway worker who’d come to England from Romania just months before, was pronounced dead an hour later. He died from a stab wound to his chest.
Mr Varela, who attended Barking and Dagenham College until last year, said he wasn’t aware anyone had a knife.
“No one had mentioned a knife,” he said.
“I panicked and ran away.
“I didn’t want this to happen.”
The trial continues.