‘I was petrified’: Romford 20-year-old accused of murdering Hosam Eisa at The Brewery claims self-defence
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A 20-year-old Romford man had been frightened for his life and acting in self-defence when he stabbed Hosam Eisa to death at The Brewery, a court heard.
Che Pullen, of Loom Grove, told The Old Bailey today that Mr Eisa had attacked a group of his friends at the Romford shopping centre on the afternoon of May 18.
A 17-year-old, also from Romford, is also accused of murder but cannot be named for legal reasons.
The group had already been confronted by Mr Eisa, who had become annoyed when the group passed him and his girlfriend on the concourse, once before in the arcade of the Namco Funscape bowling alley.
CCTV shows Mr Eisa tussling with both Mr Pullen and the 17-year-old while attempting to pull something – later proven to be a yellow craft knife – from the waistline of his trousers.
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The encounter left Mr Pullen so shaken he retreated behind the bowling alley’s reception desk.
At this point, Mr Eisa was heard by multiple witnesses to tell Mr Pullen to “come outside” before leaving the premises.
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Mr Pullen claims that he then approached the 20-year-old from Dagenham in the car park in an attempt to “defuse the situation”.
He said: “I was never going to be his friend but I didn’t want to be his enemy.
“I was scared for my friends, I didn’t want them seeing him in Romford a couple of days later when they were on their own and for him to attack them.
“I wanted to try and talk to him, say whatever he thought we’d done, however he’d perceived it, we hadn’t done it.”
However according to Mr Pullen, Mr Eisa refused to calm down and continued squaring up to members of the group.
Things quickly spiralled until the 17-year-old co-defendant grabbed Mr Eisa’s arm when he believed he was attempting to once again draw his own knife.
“I’ve never encountered anybody like that,” Mr Pullen told the jury.
“He just had a problem with everybody.
“During the entire situation he had a problem with [a 14-year-old friend of Mr Pullen’s] then with me when I tried to step in, and then finally with [the 17-year-old].”
By this point, Mr Pullen claimed, he believed his friends’ lives were in danger, and CCTV shows him slash at Mr Eisa’s face while he is struggling with the 17-year-old.
Enraged, Mr Eisa attempts to chase the group back into The Brewery from the car park area, when Mr Pullen spins on the spot and delivers the fatal blow to Hosam’s chest.
“I didn’t do it out of anger – there was not one bit of anger the entire time,” Mr Pullen insisted.
“I just panicked. I was petrified.”
When asked how he had felt immediately after the incident, Mr Pullen replied: “I just thought, I’m away now – he’s not coming to chase me. I’m safe now.”
The court heard how Mr Pullen and his friends then made their way to the Waterloo estate, where the accused, who had sustained serious injuries to his hands during the confrontation, had a cigarette and changed his clothes before wrapping a bandage around his bleeding fingers.
Asked by prosecutor John McGuiness what he did with the knife he had used to stab Mr Eisa, Mr Pullen said: “I panicked. I threw the knife down a bin chute.”
Mr McGuiness went on to argue that the fact Mr Pullen had transferred a knife he was carrying from his boxer shorts to his coat pocket at some point during the fight in the bowling alley indicated that he was ready for a fight.
The prosecutor went on to show CCTV of the moments before the final confrontation in the car park, where Mr Pullen is seen smoking a cigarette with his left hand in order to keep his right hand on the knife at all times.
At numerous times during his testimony, but particularly while CCTV of the final moments of Mr Eisa’s life was being played, Mr Pullen broke down in tears.
When asked why he lied to police during the first interview after his arrest, he claimed he had been in shock.
He said: “By that time I’d spent a night in the cells – after everything they’d told me, I knew he was dead.
“I couldn’t believe what I’d done.”
Both defendants deny murder.
The trial continues.