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Gang kicked then drowned waiter in boozy punch-up'

PUBLISHED: 10:41 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:38 25 August 2010

A GANG of Nepali thugs kicked a waiter senseless and drowned him in the Thames following a booze-fuelled punch-up on board a floating bar, a court heard.

A GANG of Nepali thugs kicked a waiter senseless and drowned him in the Thames following a booze-fuelled punch-up on board a floating bar, a court heard.

Bishal Gurung, 23, had been celebrating the Nepalese New Year when he was wrongly accused of hitting 20-year-old Kemik Thakali with a bottle the Old Bailey heard on Monday.

The victim fled along the Thames Embankment, but was 'chased down' by a furious mob, forced to the ground and kicked repeatedly in the head, on April 13 last year, jurors were told.

Kemik and his friends Rocky, 21, and Arjun Gurung, who is not related to the victim, allegedly picked him up and dumped him in the freezing river where he drowned.

His body was only found two weeks later, when it floated to the surface nearby and was spotted by a member of the public.

Prosecuting Jonathon Laidlaw said: "The tide was in flood coming into London, and the height of the water where he went into the Thames was 4.2m, 15 or 16 feet deep, running at four knots.

"Survival prospects in the Thames at that time of year are poor.

"Bishal wouldn't have survived for more than 15 minutes, and any impairment of consciousness or drunkenness would reduce that time still further."

Algae found in his lungs showed that he had still been alive when he was thrown into the river, and the cause of death was identified as drowning.

The attackers calmly went home by bus and taxi. The following day Kemik went to hospital for treatment for his head wound, claiming to have fallen over while drunk.

An hour after the murder, a member of the public called police to report the attack, but no crime scene was set up because the body was not found for two weeks, the court heard.

By the time the murder investigation began it was impossible to gather forensic evidence as the route of the London Marathon ran directly along the stretch of river where the murder took place, and spectators had disturbed the scene.

Rocky Gurung, of Haig Place, Morden, and Kemik Thakali, 20, of Legion Court, Morden, deny murder.

They are on trial with Missan Gurung, 25, of Felixstowe Rd, Abbey Wood, Roman Thapa, 21, of Balgowan St, Plumstead, Sushant Gurung, 22, of Halesowen Rd, Morden, and Lav Gurung, 21, of Princes Road, Feltham, who all deny murder and violent disorder.

Jurors were told that Arjun Gurung fled to Nepal after the murder and has not yet been returned to this country.

The trial continues.

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