One of four men accused of beating to death the wrong man in a dispute over two young lovers from the Sikh and Muslim communities told a jury how he panicked when he heard the man had died and fled 6,000 miles to Pakistan.
Shimraz Khan (35) said he had been planning a day trip to Belgium when he heard Major Singh Gill had died but went to Greece before travelling to Karachi and Islamabad.
Khan and Raja Hussain, (24), both of Bloxwich Road; Fiaz Ali, (30), of Croft Street, Birchills, and Waheed Akhtar, (22), of Essex Street, all Walsall, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Major Singh.
The 45-year-old father-ofthree, of Duke Street, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, died in August last year after he was beaten to death in the shop he owned in West Bromwich.
Anthony Barker QC, prosecuting, said Major Singh had been the innocent victim of a dispute between members of the Sikh and Muslim communities.
Khan told the court he came back to Britain from Islamabad weeks after Major Singh's death. He added: "I knew that if I came back to England I would be charged. I did not kill anyone and therefore I was not going to be on the run. I was gutted about the man who lost his life."
Khan said he had had a call from a man whose daughter was going out with a Sikh.
"I said I would do what I could and spoke to someone else about the matter. I wanted a lift to West Bromwich. I did not expect any trouble or that there might be trouble. Other men were in the van when we went to the Costcutter shop. There were items in the van which could have been used as weapons. One man had a metal bar and there was also a crook lock.
"The other men wanted to cause trouble. It was not the reason I went there. I picked up a hockey stick to defend myself.
"Another man came into the shop. He was wearing a hat and rolling it down and I could not see his face. He was carrying an iron bar. I saw him swing at the man with the bar.
"I saw Major Singh fall to the ground and I went between him and the man and shouted 'stop'." The trial continues.