Gang hid before Basildon 'paedophile' attack
A group of youths was seen hiding in a park moments before a man was killed in the mistaken belief he was a paedophile, a court has heard.
Lorry driver Darren Kelly, from Basildon, Essex, was kicked, punched and stabbed to death near his home last October.
Four people, including a 16-year-old girl, are accused of his murder.
The court has heard a "vigilante" gang attacked him as part of a campaign against suspected paedophiles.
The 16-year-old recruited friends to ambush 42-year-old Mr Kelly after arranging to meet him, jurors at Chelmsford Crown Court were told.
There was no suggestion Mr Kelly was a paedophile and he probably thought he was meeting an adult woman, prosecutor Crispin Aylett said.
Off-duty community support officer Emma Spurr told the court she was walking home on 20 October when she saw some youths hiding behind trees.
"It made me feel nervous and I wanted to get home as quickly as possible," she said.
Two males and a girl suddenly ran towards a man in a duffel coat, later discovered to be Mr Kelly, Ms Spurr said.
"When they got to him one of the men made a motion as if to punch the man. It connected and he seemed to crouch forward.
"The man in the duffle coat started to run down the road and the males and the female chased after him."
She lost sight of the group and did not see what happened next.
Mr Kelly later died in hospital after suffering six stab wounds.
The girl had previously arranged to meet two other men she suspected of being paedophiles, in the hope they would be arrested, the court heard.
Chris Carroll, 20, of Pevensey Close, Pitsea, two 17-year-old boys and the 16-year-old girl all deny murder. The teenagers cannot be named for legal reasons.
The trial is expected to last four weeks.