IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Drunken rage’ led to killing of ‘frail’ Highbury man

Peter O’Loughlin, 50, was punched to the ground in a ‘sustained’ street assault

13 December, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Wayne Packer

FRIENDS and neighbours paid tribute to a “frail” and “friendly” man who died after a “senseless and unprovoked” attack in Holloway Road.

Wayne Packer, 31, admitted this week to killing 50-year-old Highbury resident Peter O’Loughlin earlier this year.

The police described Mr O’Loughlin as “a frail man in poor health” and friends said he walked with a pronounced limp after suffering two strokes years before.

Brian Taylor, who lived across from Mr O’Loughlin in Fieldview Court, said: “He was a right nice fella. Every time he came home my dog would run out and Pete would let him in the house.

“He was a really friendly guy and I used to give him gifts and stuff I wasn’t using.”

Packer, of Arlington Road in Camden Town, was staggering down Camden Road in Holloway when he dropped his phone on June 4.

He mistakenly believed that passer-by Mr O’Loughlin had taken his lost mobile phone and launched a verbal assault.

Packer then punched him to the ground and carried out a “sustained assault”, kicking him several times and punching him again as he tried to get to his feet, the police said. Passers-by tried to intervene but Packer threatened them, intimating he was in possession of a knife before leaving the scene.

Mr O’Loughlin did not appear visibly injured when police officers arrived and spoke to him, the Met said.

He was advised there would be a wait for an ambulance and stated he would attend hospital himself, but when he arrived at hospital his condition deteriorated and scans revealed he had a bleed on the brain. He died in hospital on June 26, three weeks after the assault.

Mr O’Loughlin was an Irish national who loved to talk about rugby, his friends told the Tribune. He was often seen sitting with friends in Morrisons car park in Holloway Road.

One friend, who did not want to be named, said: “He would tell me a lot about his daughters. He missed them. And he wanted to go back to Ireland. He said that a few times and I think he was going to go in the summer. Well, now he’s passed away and we all miss him.”

An investigation was launched following the assault and Packer was identified as the suspect. He was arrested on July 1 and denied being involved in a fight but he refused to answer questions about his involvement.

Packer was due to stand trial at Wood Green Crown Court for murder this week, but on the first day in court he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He will be sentenced in January.

Detective Sergeant Kerry Burgess, from Specialist Crime, said: “Wayne Packer was heavily intoxicated that night, to the point that he did not realise he had dropped his phone. In a drunken rage, he appears to have taken his anger out on the first person he saw – unfortunately this was Peter O’Loughlin, a frail man in poor health.”

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