Man jailed for killing banker in mistaken attack over mobile phone

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A man has been jailed for three years and nine months for drunkenly attacking and killing a respected international banker after he left The Ivy Club in London’s West End.

“Kind and gentle” Paul Mason, 52, a boss at Qatar National Bank, was set upon in the street near the exclusive private members’ club in Soho, on the evening of December 15 2020.

Electrician Steven Allan, who had been out drinking with a colleague, punched Mr Mason three times in the mistaken belief that he had stolen a mobile phone belonging to his friend.

The incident took just 12 seconds and was captured on CCTV viewed by jurors in Allan’s trial.

Paul Mason
Paul Mason was ‘poleaxed’, flew back and landed on his back with his head hitting the pavement (Metropolitan Police/PA)

When Allan delivered an upper cut, Mr Mason was “poleaxed”, flew back and landed on his back with his head hitting the pavement.

Prosecutor Jane Bickerstaff KC said the defendant was “aggressive and seemed to want to continue fighting” even as Mr Mason lay “gravely injured”.

According to one witness, Allan had shouted: “Where’s your fight now, show me your fight now.”

Mr Mason had suffered serious head injuries from which he died six months later.

Allan, 35, from Hook in Hampshire, had admitted the manslaughter and was cleared of the more serious offence of murder after a trial.

On Thursday, Mr Mason’s family blamed Allan for a double tragedy as they told how his vulnerable brother took an overdose three months after his death.

Reading her victim impact statement in court, Mr Mason’s sister Rachel Mason said: “You, Steven Allan, violently attacked and killed my brother and have left me heartbroken and devastated.

“A feeling of melancholy will continue for the rest of my life as I have to live without Paul. You have broken my family forever.”

Addressing the dock, she said: “Can you imagine how frightening that was for him when he woke up and how hard it was for us not to be with him when he needed us.

“We ultimately watched Paul die as the brain damage you caused took his life and the life support was withdrawn.”

Mr Mason, who was made a freeman of the City of London for charitable works, was a “remarkably kind, decent, gentle soul” who was successful in all aspects of his life, she said.

On the death of her other sibling, she said: “My other brother Simon, a vulnerable adult, could not cope with the killing of his little brother.

“He was consumed by trauma and grief and took an overdose three months after Paul died. You have left me with no brothers at all.

“I have no doubt whatever your actions contributed to the death of my other sibling.

She added: “I hope you feel sick to the pit of your stomach every day for the rest of your life, shame and disgust as you live with – in my mind – being a murderer.”

Mr Mason’s elderly parents Ian and Linda Mason, who attended court by video link, also blamed Allan for the death of both their sons.

His father said in a statement read in court: “He is responsible for taking the lives of two people. I hope a vile thug will be taken off the streets so he cannot ruin the lives of another family the way he has ruined ours.”

In mitigation, William Boyce KC said the defendant’s “remorse” for what happened had affected every aspect of his life.

Jailing Allan to three years and nine months, Judge Michael Topolski KC said: “The circumstances that led to the defendant causing the death of a perfectly respectable, wholly innocent stranger who happened to be passing by are as extraordinary as they are tragic.

“The sudden and exceptional nature of the circumstances that led to his death have, I am sure, significantly exacerbated the family’s feelings of disbelief, distress and anger at the nature of his passing.”

The judge acknowledged the defendant’s  admission his actions were born from “unsupportable nonsense”.

He went on to highly commend the off-duty critical care nurses who witnessed the attack on Mr Mason and went to his aid before emergency services arrived.

He added: “For all they knew this could have been some kind of terrorist operating going.”

“Mr Mason’s family are devastated by this incident. Paul was an innocent victim of an unprovoked attack which resulted in a serious brain injury. They have had the unenviable experience of a trial and a retrial but have acted with dignity throughout. Our thoughts are very much with them today.”

A spokesperson for Paul Mason’s family, said: “We are immensely disappointed that the jury did not all see the intent to cause serious harm that most people who saw the CCTV concluded. We really hoped he would get a life sentence, but we must try to accept the jury’s decision. At least he will be imprisoned for killing Paul and we can start to move forward a little.

“Words cannot express how traumatised and distressed we were when we were told about the attack on Paul, a senseless act of violence on an entirely innocent man simply making his way home from an evening out with friends.

“We will be eternally grateful to the three nurses who bravely, after witnessing the attack, stepped in to protect and care for Paul as he lay unconscious on the pavement before Paul’s killer ran away.

“The helicopter emergency service, on scene medics, the critical care team at St Mary’s who battled to save Paul’s life and all the clinician’s involved in Paul’s care. Our wonderful NHS at its very best despite being mid-pandemic.

“Also, the Met police and CPS for bringing the perpetrator to justice and face the consequences of his actions which thankfully was caught on London’s CCTV network.”

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