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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 16:29 GMT
Father-of-three 'kicked to death'
Mark Witherall
Father-of-three Mark Witherall died after five weeks in hospital
Four young people kicked a father to death, stamping on him when he hit the ground after he had interrupted them burgling his house, a court has heard.

Mark Witherall, 47, spent more than five weeks on a life support machine following the attack outside his home in Whitstable, Kent, last January.

Maidstone Crown Court was told a CCTV camera picked up the four defendants' voices and Mr Witherall's groans.

Curtis Delima, Carley Firminger, Mark Elliott, and a boy of 16 deny murder.

Prosecution QC Camden Pratt told the jury the four accused had been at a birthday party in Whitstable on 27 January 2007 with Mr Witherall's partner, Sally George, also 47.

He was lying there and none of them saw fit to call an ambulance, they were too busy perpetrating the burglary
Camden Pratt

She fell asleep after drinking too much and they decided to burgle the house when they found her keys in her handbag.

They arrived at the house and looked through the window to see Mr Witherall asleep on the sofa.

"It appears that Mark Witherall woke up, or if he was not fully asleep, became aware of them, because the Crown suggests he chased them out of that house," said Mr Pratt.

"Once outside he was first of all knocked to the ground with a spirit level.

"Having been knocked to the ground, his face, his head, his body, was repeatedly kicked and punched and he was stamped on, in what the Crown says was a joint attack by the defendants."

Ransacked house

After beating Mr Witherall unconscious, three of them ransacked the house while Elliott acted as a lookout outside in case they were disturbed.

"He was lying there and none of them saw fit to call an ambulance, they were too busy perpetrating the burglary," said Mr Pratt.

The court heard that a CCTV camera on a neighbouring property was pointing the wrong way so did not film the attackers, but it recorded their voices as they carried out the attack, as well as their discussions following the incident.

Mr Delima, 19, of Regent Street, Whitstable, and the 16-year-old boy have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary but Mr Elliot, 19, of Sandpiper Road, Whitstable, has denied the charge.

They and Ms Firminger 20, also of Sandpiper Road, Whitstable, all deny murder.

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