Rainham murder suspect claims he landed ‘one lucky punch’ while acting in self-defence

Police and forensic officers outside Rodney Parlour's flat in Hood Road, Rainham, in October last ye

Police and forensic officers outside Rodney Parlour's flat in Hood Road, Rainham, in October last year. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A man accused of beating an alcoholic to death said he landed “one lucky punch” on the victim during a fight, but did not cause the injuries that killed him.

Mark Croxson, 48, of no fixed abode, is accused of murdering 51-year-old Rodney Parlour on or around October 1 last year at Mr Parlour’s flat in Hood Road, Rainham.

Testifying at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday, March 21), Mr Croxson insisted his sister Natalie’s testimony, a key part of the prosecution’s case against him, had been entirely false.

Natalie, a 52-year-old alcoholic, had told the court that on that weekend Mr Croxson, recently out of prison, went to visit her at Mr Parlour’s flat, where a fight soon broke out.

Mr Croxson described Natalie’s claims that the row had started because he had mistakenly called Mr Parlour a sex offender as “absolute rubbish”, and said she was drunk throughout the incident.

Instead, Mr Croxson claimed the fight had been between his sister and Mr Parlour over money she accused Mr Parlour of stealing.

This escalated until Mr Parlour threatened to kill both siblings.

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Mr Croxson claimed Mr Parlour then began strangling him from behind, before a fight broke out that saw the pair “trading blows for blows” before Mr Croxson ended it with “a lucky punch” that knocked Mr Parlour to the kitchen floor.

On his way down, Mr Croxson claimed, Mr Parlour hit his head on the flat’s fridge and began bleeding heavily

The 48-year-old insisted Mr Parlour had then got up, was moving freely and speaking normally – but refused repeated offers of help.

Mr Croxson then claims to have left the flat and slept on a communal garden chair outside.

He said: “I felt awful because he’d obviously smashed his head on the fridge and that made me feel terrible.

“I’ve got a heart – I’d left that man there with a bleeding head. He didn’t want no help and that made me feel worse.

“But no way did I hurt him bad enough to kill him. No way.”

Mr Croxson was then shown CCTV of Mr Parlour at a local off-licence from earlier on that day in which Mr Parlour man had been visibly struggling to maintain his balance and had been moving extremely slowly.

This, prosecutor Simon Denison QC said, was proof that Mr Parlour would in no way have been able to put up a fight against Mr Croxson.

But Mr Croxson told the jury: “Listen, that man was strong. He was very, very strong.

“I didn’t know that day what he was capable of, it was the first time I’d met him.”

And Mr Croxson also denied kicking Mr Parlour, or hitting him with a vodka bottle – despite Natalie claiming to have seen him doing so and a broken, bloodstained vodka bottle being recovered from the scene.

At this point, Mr Denison insisted that Mr Croxson’s version of events was “a pack of lies”.

He continued: “Your trainers, that you say you put on just before you left that flat, were heavily stained with Rodney Parlour’s blood – both of them.

“And we know from the forensic expert that the pattern of staining is consistent with stamping, repeated stamping, onto Mr Parlour.”

When asked how Mr Croxson’s testimony could possibly explain Mr Parlour’s two black eyes, numerous facial cuts, broken nose and 17 fractured ribs, Mr Croxson again insisted he was not a medical expert and couldn’t speculate.

He said: “All I can say is that Rodney Parlour was bleeding heavily from his head.

“I don’t know if it was this cut or that cut, but he was bleeding heavily.

“There was blood everywhere.”

Mr Denison went on to argue that several large bloodstains throughout the flat had “impact spatters”, which showed Mr Parlour had been repeatedly struck with force while he was on the floor bleeding.

Again, Mr Croxson insisted he was no expert, but denied ever striking Mr Parlour while he was on the floor.

Mr Croxson denies murder.

The trial continues.