Thug who killed innocent man in Grays with one punch then pulled 'victory pose' is jailed

Alin Zaharia, 27, launched an unprovoked attack on Gary Clark
Alin Zaharia, 27, launched an unprovoked attack in Southend Road in Grays, Essex. Credit: BPM Media

A thug who killed an innocent man with a single punch then threw his arms up in a "victory pose" to his friends has been jailed.

Alin Zaharia, 27, launched an unprovoked attack on Gary Clark, 40, but when he called 999 he lied to the call operator and claimed he had found his victim lying in the street.

Zaharia came across Mr Clark on Southend Road in Grays, Essex, on 30 November 2020 while out with a group of friends.

Mr Clark had previously been drinking outside his local shops on the road that evening, minding his own business, Basildon Crown Court heard.

When Zaharia's group arrived, there were words exchanged between his friend and a friend of Mr Clark's.

The matter was seemingly resolved, and then Zaharia could be seen on CCTV conversing with someone inside a white car on the road, before collapsing on the ground and laughing.

Following this, Mr Clark was standing in the middle of the road while the other men rowed, and Zaharia approached him and punched him in the face, despite Mr Clark posing no threat to him.

Mr Clark fell back and hit his head on the ground. He ended up suffering a skull fracture and later a severe brain injury and sadly died.

Zaharia, of Leicester Road, Tilbury, was later arrested on suspicion of murder, and the charge was later changed to manslaughter.

He denied manslaughter but was found guilty after a trial. Yesterday [Aug 4], he was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Ashity Ollennu, mitigating, said Zaharia, who had come from Romania to the UK to "better his life", now accepted the verdict of the jury and realised his actions on the evening were "rash".

Mr Ollennu said: "He stayed at the scene and called the ambulance, tried to help and he showed a degree of remorse, he said: 'What have we done?'. He showed that he was greatly affected by it.

"He will have this over his head for the rest of his life this rash action that has caused someone to die. He will have that with him for the rest of his life.

"He's very sorry for the actions he took on that day. He will make amends for the rest of his life by coming back and being the kind of person that, until that event, he is and was."

Judge Samantha Leigh said the footage of Zaharia with the white car and him collapsing on the floor laughing was "highly suspicious" and she suspected that Zaharia may have consumed some form of drugs, although this has never been proven and did not form part of the criminal charges.

'One-punch manslaughter'

Judge Leigh said: "This is a tragic case of a one-punch manslaughter. Gary Clark was 40 years old at the time of his death, a son who was deeply loved.

"On November 30, 2020, in the early evening until midnight, he was sat outside his local shops as he would often do, sipping a can of drink. He was clearly a loner who would mind his own business. He was a quiet person and didn't cause any difficulty at all."

Judge Leigh added: "Without warning you step into him and you punch him in the face. You maintained to the jury that you pushed Mr Clark. That has rightly been rejected. You said that he was aggressive and swearing at you just before your hitting. I find it as fact that Mr Clark was not doing any of those things whatsoever.

"You return to your group behind you with your arms out as in some form of victory gesture. You did call 999 and you lied to the operator and said you didn't know what happened to the man and you came across the man in the road."

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