Life sentence for murderer of Leicester 'peacemaker'

Victor-Eduard Raja
-Credit: (Image: Leicestershire Police)

A man has been given a life sentence today (Monday, June 24) for stabbing a “peacemaker” through the heart in Leicester. Victor-Eduard Raja (25) must serve a minimum of 25 years and six months behind bars for killing Sidney Palmer, who tried to break up a fight in which Raja had become involved.

CCTV showed Raja arming himself with a knife before swinging it towards 59-year-old Mr Palmer in Conduit Street, next to Leicester Railway Station, on Saturday, September 30, last year. During a trial at Leicester Crown Court , Raja told the jury that he had been offered £20 worth of the drug mamba to hit someone, but had accidentally stabbed Mr Palmer while trying to get away from the resulting skirmish.

Raja’s co-defendant, Michael Boleyn (31), was found guilty of manslaughter after the jury heard that he and Nathan Pritchard (29), who pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the beginning of the trial, had sent Raja to give a man a “couple of slaps” following two altercations earlier that evening.

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After the attack, Raja was driven to Yorkshire by his mother, Diana Bodrug, who assisted in booking him into accommodation under false details and bought him a new phone SIM card. She pleaded guilty to assisting an offender.

Today, after the four were sentenced, Mr Palmer's daughter, Leanne Palmer, said she had suffered “nightmares from having to identify his body” and that that was “something a daughter should never have to do under these circumstances". She said in a statement: “The impact the murder of my dad has had on my life is unreal. Not only has my dad been taken away, so has a part of me.

“I’ve always been a daddy’s girl even when I didn’t see him for them years. He finally came back to Leicester, and I was so happy, but quickly that happiness turned to sadness when the news of what happened was broken to me. My world fell apart.”

Jon Palmer, Mr Palmer's brother, said in a statement: “Hearing the news of Sid’s death was devastating and a day I will never forget. Although we were not as close in recent years, Sid will always be a very much-loved part of our family and we still can’t believe he is no longer with us.

“Sid was known by so many people around Leicester, and they would always say what a well-liked and cheery character he was. He died in the most tragic circumstances when all he was trying to help, which shows what type of person he really was."

During the trial, the prosecution told the jury that at shortly after 6.15pm on the day in question, Pritchard was punched by an unknown person believed to be acting on behalf of a man involved in an earlier altercation with Pritchard outside a shop in London Road. Police said the prosecution believed Raja, of no fixed address, was instructed by Pritchard, also of no fixed address, to attack an “associate” of the "first man" involved in the altercation after Pritchard became involved in an argument in Conduit Street at around 7pm. The court was told that Boleyn, of Great Central Way, Leicester, threatened the man, and then Raja arrived and started a fight with the man, “violently punching him".

From top left: Victor Eduard Raja & Nathan Pritchard - bottom left Michael Boleyn & Diana Bodrug
From top left: Victor Eduard Raja & Nathan Pritchard - bottom left Michael Boleyn & Diana Bodrug -Credit:Leicestershire Police

Several people then intervened, one of whom was Mr Palmer, who was not involved at all in the wider incident and who tried to act as a peacemaker attempting to pull Raja away. Raja then swung towards Mr Palmer with a knife, initially missing, before striking him with such force that the knife went through Mr Palmer’s heart and left a wound on his spine.

While giving evidence at court, Raja said he had not taken the knife with him to the scene, and had disarmed the man, called Bailey Taylor. Raja said: “I was being strangled and punched in the head. I heard them say, '**** him up'.

"Bailey Taylor had a knife. I put my hand on top of it. I grabbed it. I'd been grabbed from behind. I thought I was going to be dragged to the floor and be badly injured. I tried getting free, moving my arms around, trying to get everybody off me."

Police traced Raja to an address and he was arrested by armed officers in the early hours of Thursday, October 5. After being interviewed by detectives, where he gave 'no comment' answers, Raja was charged with murder and remanded into custody.

Police said today that Raja's sentence also took into consideration previous offences of possession of drugs and false identity documents. Boleyn was sentenced to eight years in prison while Pritchard was sentenced to six years. Bodrug, 49, of Melton Road, Syston, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Sinski, who was the senior investigating officer, said after sentencing: “This was a tragic loss of life of a popular man, who was only trying to act as a peacemaker and stop the initial fight taking place. Sidney was a well known and loved man and his death has understandably had a devastating effect on his family and friends.”

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