A white man accused of murdering Indian student Anuj Bidve in a suspected racist attack in Salford, Greater Manchester, last December has admitted killing him but denied murder.
Kiaran Stapleton (21), who was produced before the Manchester Crown Court on Friday, pleaded not guilty of murder but admitted to the lesser charge of manslaughter on account of “diminished responsibility”.
Bidve’s parents, Subhash and Yogini Bidve who travelled from Pune, to attend the hearing, described it as a “very emotional” experience.
“This is the first time we have returned to the U.K. since Anuj was taken away from us, and the first time we have come face to face with the man charged with his murder, so clearly this is a very emotional and difficult time for us,” they said.
Stapleton, who calls himself “Psycho Stapleton”, showed no sign of emotion and sat throughout the hearing with his hands clasped.
Dressed in a grey tracksuit, he spoke only to confirm his name and enter his pleas during a brief hearing. He was remanded in custody ahead of the trial expected to begin on June 25.
The media was banned from reporting details of Friday’s proceedings other than the pleas.
In a statement, Bidve’s parents said: “We have today heard in person that Kiaran Stapleton admitted killing Anuj. We know there is tremendous amount of interest from the media both at home in India and here in the United Kingdom. As there will be a trial later this month, we cannot say anything further at this time and we would ask that the media respect both our privacy and the integrity of the court process.”
Bidve (23), a bright postgraduate student of Lancaster University, was holidaying in Salford with his friends over Christmas last year when in the early hours of Boxing Day – December 26 - the group was accosted by two white men in their 20s. One of them, later identified as Stapleton, shot him in the head at close range without any provocation. Bidve later died in hospital.
His murder caused a wave of outrage, with Prime Minister David Cameron calling for maximum punishment for his killer. Ministers assured foreign students that Britain is a safe place to come and study.
In a rare gesture, Lancaster University has set up an annual scholarship. It will fund a graduate from Pune University, to study M.Sc. in the University’s engineering department where Anuj was reading postgraduate micro-electronics.
Anuj’s parents said the family felt no bitterness towards the people of Salford and were in fact overwhelmed by their show of support at a very difficult time.