A pair of late night drinkers have blamed each other for attacking a Polish man who almost drowned after being thrown into the River Exe.
Kruze Howard and Christopher Pinnock had spent the night at two pubs in Exeter and then gone to drink more beer on the steps leading to the river at Exe Bridges before the alleged attack.
They told a jury very different versions of the night in September last year when a Polish man was attacked as he walked home along the riverbank from a friend’s birthday party.
They both denied shouting any racial abuse at Konrad Raczynski but each said the other and a third man had been responsible for the violence.
Howard, aged 24, of Okehampton Street, Exeter, and Pinnock, aged 24, of Haven Road, Exeter, deny racially aggravated assault causing actual bodily harm.
The prosecution have told the jury they were motivated by racism when they set on Mr Raczynski as he passed under the South side of Exe Bridges.
They say the men left him unconscious in the water while they fled to Howard’s home nearby and the victim was rescued by police who tracked the alleged attackers through their wet footprints.
The jury have heard one of the men jumped into the river after Mr Raczynski and also made further racial comments to people sitting nearby.
Howard allegedly told police at the scene:”If someone gets chucked in the river, I’m just going to stand there all day laughing.”
Both men were found hiding in an attic and a cupboard at Howard’s house after police followed a trail of wet footprints from the river.
Mr Raczynski said he was attacked from behind, kicked to the ground and subjected to racial abuse. He was rolled into the river and kicked as he tried to get out.
He told Exeter Crown Court when he scrambled to safety he was attacked again, thrown into the river, and pelted with beer bottles. He said he lost consciousness and almost drowned before being rescued by police.
Howard told the jury both he and Pinnock had been out at the Salters Arms and Walkabout pubs during the evening and went home after both got into fights in or outside the second bar.
He said he was sat on the steps above the river when he saw an altercation between Pinnock and Mr Raczynski and both had fallen in the water as he tried to intervene.
He denied assaulting the victim in any way and said a third man named Lee Lewis arrived on the riverbank and joined the attack.
He said he tried to help Mr Raczynski out of the water but his offer was rejected and he walked away, going home when he saw police arriving.
Pinnock said he had fallen in the river after trying to stop a fight between Mr Raczynski and Howard and had then been pulled out of the water.
He said he jumped back in to try to help Mr Raczynski out of the river but the Polish man swore at him and splashed him with water.
Both denied attacking the victim or doing anything to prevent him getting out of the water.
Howard said:”I did not do anything until I saw it was Chris and then I tried to split it up and push them away from one another. There was a lot of swearing but I don’t remember any racist language.
“It was quite brief then they fell in the river. I helped Chris out and walked away up to the bridge. I offered to help the Polish guy but he wasn’t having any of it.”
Pinnock said:”I just wanted to get myself away. I was soaking wet and freezing. I thought the best thing to do was to walk away.”