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Guilty plea over banker death in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 11:57 09 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:03 06 July 2010

Frank McGarahan. Photo: Barclays Bank.

Frank McGarahan. Photo: Barclays Bank.

Two brothers pleaded guilty today to killing a father-of-two in Norwich city centre. Tom Cowles, 22, and his brother Ben, 21, both of Norwich, admitted the manslaughter of Frank McGarahan during an incident in the city in the early hours of September 28 last year.

Two brothers pleaded guilty today to killing a father-of-two in Norwich city centre.

Tom Cowles, 22, and his brother Ben, 21, both of Norwich, admitted the manslaughter of Frank McGarahan during an incident in the city in the early hours of September 28 last year.

Mr McGarahan, 45, of Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, died in hospital after suffering head injuries, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Both brothers had denied murdering Mr McGarahan.

But both today also admitted affray, and Ben Cowles also admitted assaulting another man.

Mr McGarahan worked for Barclays and ran an arm of the bank which managed the assets of some of the world's richest people.

Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC said Mr McGarahan, plus a cousin and a brother, had witnessed an assault on another man in central Norwich at about 3am.

Mr Dennis said they had stepped in to help, then been attacked.

He said Mr McGarahan had been knocked to the floor within three minutes of intervening, after being punched to the head and put in a headlock.

Mr Dennis said the banker lapsed into a coma and did not recover.

"Both young men took part in an unnecessary and joint attack on Frank McGarahan, his brother and cousin," said Mr Dennis.

"In the circumstances we submit (they) bravely intervened when many others would have stepped back.'

Mr Dennis said Mr McGarahan and his relatives were in Norwich for a family christening and trouble flared after they had enjoyed a night out in the city.

He said Ben and Tom Cowles lived in Beaumont Road, Costessey, with their father.

Ben Cowles was a pipe fitter and Tom Cowles a builder.

The judge, Mr Justice Saunders, told the court that he thought the prosecution's decision to accept a guilty plea to manslaughter was "sensible and appropriate'.

But he said he understood how the decision to accept the plea would have been difficult for prosecution lawyers and for Mr McGarahan's family.

Mr McGarahan's brother, Tony, was in court to hear the pleas entered and evidence outlined.

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