Not guilty verdict returned in Poplar murder trial

Zdenek Makar

Zdenek Makar - Credit: MPS

A man accused of killing catering manager Zdenek Makar with a bicycle chain after a trivial argument in a chicken shop has been found not guilty of his murder.

A vigil for Zdenek Makar, known as Zed

A vigil for Zdenek Makar, known as Zed - Credit: Niall Joyce

Raymond Sculley, of Sherman House, Aberfeldy Street, Poplar, was cleared of the charge following a two week trial at the Old Bailey, having claimed he did not intend to kill him and was acting in self-defence.

The 29-year-old was also cleared of the alternative charge of the manslaughter of Czech national Mr Makar, who was known as Zed.

The 31-year-old City worker died after an altercation outside Perfect Fried Chicken in East India Dock Road, Poplar, on the evening of September 21 last year.

During the trial, jurors had heard how Mr Makar had stopped at the takeaway his way home from drinks with colleagues when Mr Sculley attacked him.

Seeing bicycles strewn on the pavement outside, Mr Makar allegedly joked to one of Mr Sculley’s friends: “What’s this? A bike gang?”

It led to a minor spat with the youth inside the chicken shop before Sculley stepped in and put Mr Makar into a “quasi-headlock”, jurors heard.

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Sculley, wearing paint-splattered work clothes, was seen on CCTV footage acting aggressively towards the suited hospitality manager, who was trying to calm the situation, the court heard.

As Mr Makar continued on his way, the defendant and his friends followed on bikes, the court heard.

Prosecutor Lisa Wilding QC said during the trial: “Mr Makar obviously believed he was being followed and turned to confront the group. He put his food down and took his jacket off. He was alone and unarmed.

“Raymond Sculley then removed a bicycle lock, a heavy metal chain attached to a solid locking end that he took from his own bike, and approached the helpless Mr Makar.

“He swung the improvised weapon and struck Mr Makar to the left side of his head, catching him behind the ear and knocking him to the ground where he then struck him at least twice more.”

Another passing cyclist saw the end of the attack and dialled 999 as residents rushed to help but Mr Makar was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Two days later, two of Mr Sculley’s friends went to police to report him for the attack.

The same day, Mr Sculley handed himself in saying he felt “destroyed” and “like I’ve destroyed potential lives and future careers”.