Murder trial hears of 'savage' attack

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A MAN from Salisbury died three years after a “savage, unprovoked and continuing attack” which left him in a vegetative state, a court heard at the start of a murder trial on Monday.

Joseph Starzacher was attacked in New Canal, Salisbury, in the early hours of July 29, 2007, after a night out in the city centre.

The trial of his attacker Adam Stuart Cross, 35, started at Winchester Crown Court on Monday. The jury was shown CCTV footage of the attack, which shows Cross punching Mr Starzacher to the ground before kicking him in the head.

Nigel Pascoe, prosecuting, said: “We say there was no reason for the attack and when it came Mr Starzacher offered no resistance at all.”

The court heard Mr Starzacher had been out with friends that evening, and had drunk about four pints.

He first encountered Cross, who denies murder, at the Chick-O-Land takeaway just before 1am.

Mr Pascoe told the court witnesses said Cross deliberately targeted Mr Starzacher, shouting abuse at him and calling him a drug addict.

When the pair left the takeaway, the argument continued outside, moving towards Vision Express.

Mr Pascoe said: “We say the defendant ran at Mr Starzacher and with two hands pushed him backwards up against the wall then punched him twice in the head. He pulled him away from the wall, dragging him in a circular way and we say at that point he had lost his temper.”

Witnesses tried to intervene but Cross is then seen punching Mr Starzacher in the face, knocking him to the floor. “When the defendant moved back towards Mr Starzacher, he kicked him in the same part of his head; an action seen by a number of witnesses who were very close by,” said Mr Pascoe.

He said that when police officers arrived, Cross was still at the scene and he accepted assaulting his victim, apologising for his actions.

The court heard when Cross, of Brown Street, Salisbury was later shown footage of the attack, he became “increasingly uncomfortable” and said he was “disgusted at his own behaviour”.

Mr Starzacher was taken to Salisbury District Hospital and then Southampton General Hospital, where he had an operation to remove a blood clot.

He was transferred to Glenside specialist neurological centre a few months later and was in a permanent vegetative state until he died of pneumonia on August 3, 2010.

Two separate pathologist reports said Mr Starzacher died “as a direct consequence of severe cranial trauma sustained in the course of an assault”.

The trial continues.

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