By Calvin Palmer
Two brothers, both promising boxers at school, admitted killing a Barclays Bank executive when he intervened to stop a gang of men attacking a homeless man in Norwich.
Tom Cowles, 22, and his brother Ben, 21 pleaded guilty today at Norwich Crown Court to beating to death millionaire Frank McGarahan.
The 45-year-old financier who had some of the world’s richest people among his clients had been in Norwich celebrating a christening with his brothers, Tony and Kevin, and cousin Sean Ryan. As they waited for a taxi, in the early hours of the morning, they saw a gang of men attacking Robertas Sinkevicius, a man of “down-and-out” appearance.
CCTV footage of the incident was shown in court.
It showed McGarahan being attacked but managing to get to his feet. He then staggered around before collapsing and lying motionless on his back.
It also showed McGarahan’s brother, Kevin, being punched to the floor and lying motionless, and his cousin, Sean Ryan, being punched to the floor as he tried to help.
McGarahan, of Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, died the day after the attack in September last year.
At the time of the attack, Tony said his brother “paid the ultimate price for trying to be a good citizen”.
Mark Dennis, QC, for the prosecution, said the three men had approached the gang with “caution” and words to the effect of “What’s happening here?”
They were met with abuse and told: “F**k off or you will get some”.
One of the group of youths said the homeless man “has got what he deserved”.
Kevin McGarahan then called the group of youths “cowards”, the court heard, and shortly afterwards, Ben Cowles “took a run” at Frank McGarahan and punched the banker in the head.
Tom Cowles then grabbed him in a headlock and began punching him, landing upwards of six blows, the court heard.
Finally, Ben Cowles punched McGarahan again.
“It was a blow which was followed a few seconds later by Frank McGarahan’s sudden and dramatic collapse,” said Dennis.
Today the Cowles brothers, who were members of Norwich Lads Amateur Boxing Club, admitted manslaughter. They had denied murder.
Tom, a builder, and Ben, a pipe fitter, both from Norwich, had learnt boxing at a young age and represented their county and regional at junior levels before giving up competitive fights around seven years ago.
The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, told the court that he thought the prosecution’s decision to accept a guilty plea to manslaughter was sensible and appropriate.
However, he said that he understood that the decision to accept the plea would have been difficult for prosecution lawyers and for McGarahan’s family.
Sentencing was adjourned until June 26 and the brothers were remanded into custody.