Jailed: Homeless man killed fellow rough sleeper in Smethwick attack

A homeless man has been jailed after killing another rough sleeper whom he kicked, causing serious brain injuries when his head hit the ground.

Jagdev Lally, left, died two weeks after being attacked by Ashley Pace, right
Jagdev Lally, left, died two weeks after being attacked by Ashley Pace, right

Ashley Pace was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter. A not guilty verdict was directed by the judge in relation to a charge of the murder of Jagdev Lally, in Smethwick.

Mr Lally, who had lived in the Smethwick area but was thought to be homeless at the time of the attack, died two weeks after being assaulted by Pace in the early hours of April 14.

He had been resting next to Pace’s partner on bedding in an alley just off the High Street when Pace arrived and attacked him at around 3am.

Pace, 35, kicked Mr Lally as he sat on the floor, leaving him with serious injuries to his head and face. The 38-year-old was was rushed to hospital with a bleed on the brain after being found by a passer-by around six hours later but died on May 1.

CCTV captured the attack near Tollgate Shopping Centre.

Pace, of no fixed address, was initially charged with wounding before being charged with murder after Mr Lally’s death. He eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Mr Robert Price, prosecuting at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Tuesday, said Mr Lally had been taken to Birmingham City Hospital on April 13 and treated for a cut to his chin. He was discharged after no signs of head injury were found and then walked the three miles back to Smethwick where Pace slept with his girlfriend, Lucy Aldridge.

At the time Ms Aldridge was alone and Pace woke her up asking her for bedding as he was cold, Mr Price said.

“He was a stranger, she was afraid, she told him to leave her alone and said her boyfriend would be back in a bit,” added Mr Price.

“She woke up and noticed he was lying next to her. Mr Pace came back, she said, ‘bab, I warned him, he wouldn’t take no for an answer’.

Swollen

“Mr Pace took hold of the deceased and dragged him.Mr Pace kicks him and he fell back hard against the ground. That we say is the assault that caused in due course, his death. He did get to his feet after the assault but with significant difficulty and was found 50 yards away later the same morning.”

At hospital, nurses noticed a foot mark on Mr Lally’s chest, his nose was swollen and he was sent for a CT scan which found a large subdural haematoma. His condition deteriorated and he developed a chest infection which manifested itself as pneumonia and he died on May 1.

In a victim personal statement, his family said: “His death was so unexpected and shocking. He was loved by all those who knew him.

“His death has been difficult to process and we are not able to grieve together due to Covid.”

Pace had previous convictions for violence including being sentenced to 20 weeks in August for kicking his girlfriend in the face days after Mr Lally’s attack and accusing her of being a prostitute, then being violent towards officers who responded, the court heard.

Mr Jo Sidhu, defending Pace, said the Crown’s expert said Mr Lally’s broken nose could have been caused by a fall after the attack, as well as the kick.

He added: “It was his home which had been invaded by someone else. The defendant feels deeply saddened by these events. What he did to this other man could easily have happened to the defendant if he had entered someone else’s space.”

Judge Michael Chambers QC sentenced Pace to six years in prison.

He said: “You returned to find him lying next to her, you became angry and that motivated what clearly was an unprovoked and unjustified assault.”

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