One coward’s punch killed my TWO brothers: Sister of bank boss who died from assault outside The Ivy in London tells of her double loss after her eldest brother drank himself to death following the tragedy – as she pleads for the killer to remain in jail
- Sister of slain banker, Rachel Mason, has opened up about the death of Paul
- Read more: Moment thug launches savage unprovoked attack on banker
Since the deaths, in quick succession, of her two older brothers, Rachel Mason has become the head of her small, tragically depleted family; the mouthpiece for the burning injustice it feels.
Her adored brother Paul, a successful international banker, died aged 52 after an entirely unprovoked and brutal attack on a London street in December 2020.
He did not recover from the final, devastating blow that felled him and left him unconscious. Six months on, he died in hospital.
Then, three months later, Rachel’s eldest sibling, Simon, 56, devastated by grief, relapsed into alcoholism and also died.
This week electrician Steven Allan, 35, was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey of murdering Paul Mason and jailed for just three years nine months after admitting the lesser charge of manslaughter. It is likely he will serve little more than a year behind bars. Rachel is outraged.
Her adored brother Paul (left), a successful international banker, died aged 52 after an entirely unprovoked and brutal attack in London
Electrician Steven Allan, 35, was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey of murdering Paul Mason and jailed for just three years nine months after admitting the lesser charge of manslaughter
‘The verdict is a travesty,’ she says. ‘In my opinion Steven Allan murdered Paul. How could it not be murder? He hit my kind, gentle, compassionate brother — who made no attempt to retaliate — repeatedly and with such ferocity that he fell to the ground and did not get up again.’
She adds: ‘Allan set off a chain of events that had a ripple effect. Simon died of alcohol poisoning as a result of losing his brother. He was in recovery, but he started drinking again. I believe it was a slow suicide.
‘Allan has two people’s blood on his hands. He killed Paul and he triggered Simon’s addiction because he couldn’t cope with the heartbreak of our brother’s death.
‘When the sentence was handed down I was stunned. Allan could be out in just over a year, which is outrageous. His defence was that he was under the influence of alcohol and very anxious when he attacked Paul.
‘Well, I’m anxious. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], but I don’t kill people.’
She is fiercely indignant; her quiet, long pent-up fury now exploding into unbridled rage.
‘The police applauded me for remaining dignified in court but I just wanted to scream and shout; to proclaim my anger and disgust at what has happened. The grief and loss I feel is visceral, and I’m often overwhelmed with sadness. I feel hatred towards Steven Allan. How dare he take Paul’s life?
‘And he has destroyed our elderly parents. They, too, struggle to believe what’s happened. Dad said: ‘I’ve lost both my sons in a year.’ The shock is profound. Mum is still processing it. You just think: ‘What’s next?’
Rachel is now appealing to the Attorney General against the leniency of the sentence and has launched a petition — so far 8,100 have signed — urging a review and extension of Allan’s jail term, and an overhaul of sentencing for manslaughter in general.
It is another awful anomaly of the case that Allan was released on bail, on a tag, after first being charged — when Paul still clung to life in hospital — with causing grievous bodily harm with intent. The time he spent on the tag will be deducted from his sentence.
Rachel (pictured) is now appealing to the Attorney General against the leniency of the sentence and has launched a petition — so far 8,100 have signed — urging a review and extension of Allan’s jail term
Allan had been drinking in a number of bars when he bumped into Paul Mason (pictured) and accused him of stealing a friend’s mobile phone before the unprovoked attack
Paul (centre) was the family’s linchpin, says Rachel. ‘He was the glue that held our little family together; the one we went to for support and inspiration, for guidance’
Her parents Ian, 80, and Linda, 79, are too traumatised to talk about the tragedy, so it falls to Rachel to articulate their collective outrage.
Paul was the family’s linchpin, says Rachel. ‘He was the glue that held our little family together; the one we went to for support and inspiration, for guidance.’
Chief executive of Qatar National Bank, he was affluent, widely travelled and hard-working.
‘He was practical and pragmatic, loving and generous, a godfather to five children — and there was a waiting list,’ she smiles. ‘He was made a Freeman of the City of London for his services to banking and charity work.
‘He always brought joy and laughter. We’d send each other little jokey messages almost every day. And our bond deepened as we got older. I loved spending time with him and looked forward to having him to help me support our parents into their old age.’
Ian was semi-retired; a consultant for Aston Martin’s London service centre, which he used to own. Now he has lost all impetus to work.
‘Getting justice for Paul is about doing the right thing, not only for our family but for others, too. It’s what he would have done,’ Rachels says.
She believes Allan should serve a life sentence; not just for the death of an honourable, decent man, but to send out a wider message.
‘A life sentence would be right for Allan. You take a life; you lose a substantial part of your own life. A sentence has to mean something, otherwise it is not a deterrent to those who commit violence on our streets.
Rachel (right), 50, is articulate; she appears upbeat, but just beneath the brittle façade of her cheerfulness tears spring readily to her eyes (pictured with brother Paul, left)
‘That he will serve just over a year sends out a dangerous message that our society puts little value on a human life.’
It is hard to take in the scale and scope of her loss. Mum to two teenage daughters — who both adored their uncles — she sits in the airy kitchen of the family home in a village in the Surrey commuter belt. Guinea pigs scurry in a run; there is an abiding sense of homeliness.
Rachel, 50, is articulate; she appears upbeat, but just beneath the brittle façade of her cheerfulness tears spring readily to her eyes. A former NHS fundraiser for the Royal Surrey Hospital, she has not worked since Paul’s death.
She recalls the day after the attack when she woke to messages from two of Paul’s friends. ‘One had been left on my mobile at 5.50am. It said: ‘Please call urgently.’ And when I did, at 7am, Paul’s friend said he was critically ill, in intensive care. I remember that feeling of sick panic and disbelief. Paul had climbed Kilimanjaro. He was fit, healthy; active. How could he possibly be dying?
‘I desperately wanted to see him in hospital, but they wouldn’t let me because of the Covid restrictions. I was so scared he’d die, but I tried to focus on the positive.
‘Then, after a couple of days the hospital updates were alarming. His brain was swelling so much he had to have neurosurgery to remove a large part of his skull.’
By now police had pieced together the chronology of the awful attack which was as random as it was inexplicable.
On December 15, 2020, Paul had been in Lyme Regis, Dorset, where he had a second home and was trustee of the town’s museum.
She commends the bravery of three off-duty intensive care nurses who rushed to Paul’s (left) aid even as Allan fled the scene
Rachel has supported police in releasing harrowing video footage of the attack, which she hopes will encourage people to sign her petition
‘He’d been helping to organise its centenary celebrations,’ recalls Rachel. Then he drove back into London to have dinner with friends; two former colleagues, a man and a woman.
At around 10pm he left The Ivy, a private members’ club in Covent Garden, Central London, where he’d dined.
‘He had just seen his female friend into a black cab to ensure she’d get home safely and was phoning his Uber.’
But in a tragic twist of fate his phone lit up at exactly the same time as Allan said he tried to ring a friend. Allan claimed in his defence that he was drunk and thought Paul had stolen his friend’s phone.
‘Allan went to grab Paul’s phone and Paul stood back in shock, thinking he was being robbed,’ says Rachel. ‘He turned to walk away but Allan punched him so hard that Paul flew off his feet. He continued to punch him when Paul tried to get up. Paul didn’t fight back. He turned the other cheek.
‘Then Allan delivered an upper cut which knocked Paul out. He fell back like a plank, hit his head on the pavement and he lay there unconscious.’
Rachel has supported police in releasing harrowing video footage of the attack, which she hopes will encourage people to sign her petition: if she gets 10,000 signatures, Parliament will discuss Allan’s sentence, and guidelines for jail terms for manslaughter cases in general.
‘I want people to watch the CCTV footage and judge for themselves: is one year in prison enough? I think it will provoke outrage at the lenient sentence. The police and Crown Prosecution Service are as dismayed by it as I am.’
She commends the bravery of three off-duty intensive care nurses who rushed to Paul’s aid even as Allan fled the scene.
What she finds particularly hard to bear is the time Allan spent on bail when he was tagged — time which will be deducted from his sentence, too.
‘He was free to enjoy Christmas with his family; he could still work,’ she says. ‘Meanwhile, Covid restrictions meant we could only see Paul, who was critically ill, on FaceTime.’
Her brother’s death was both agonising and protracted. An air ambulance, landing yards from the attack, flew him to St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington where he was put into an induced coma.
His injuries were horrific: ‘He came slowly out of the coma and when he did, his short-term memory was wiped. He had a massive hole in his skull after an operation to remove part of it. Essentially you could see his brain, so he wore a helmet. He couldn’t talk properly or swallow.’
Rachel and her parents were permitted to visit him just once, on his 52nd birthday — March 17, 2021 — by which time he had been transferred to the private Wellington Hospital in St John’s Wood.
‘He was painfully thin and weak. From being a fit and healthy man he’d become a shadow. He had frontal lobe brain damage which made him confused, disoriented. We were full of trepidation about the Paul that would emerge.’
Paul Mason (left) died on June 4, 2021, but his funeral was delayed until August while pathologists, examining his body, concluding that he had died of brain damage as a direct result of the attack
After four-and-a-half months in hospital, Paul was allowed back to his home in Wandsworth, South London, with round-the-clock care. Three weeks later, he had an operation to fit a titanium plate on his skull to protect his brain.
Then, three days on from the operation, came devastating news: ‘Dad got a phone call from the hospital saying Paul was unresponsive, in a coma, in intensive care. He’d had brain bleeds, catastrophic strokes.
‘He was unlikely to regain consciousness and if he did he’d have a hideous existence, unaware of his surroundings; blind, unable to feed himself. The hospital decided not to continue life support. All we could do was watch him die.
‘I had a final sleep-over at the hospital and the next night, at 9pm, Mum, Dad and I said goodnight to him. We left the radio playing quietly in the background when we went. Heart FM.
‘Then we had the phone call telling us his heart had stopped.’ They returned to the hospital. ‘I said what I wanted to say: ‘I love you Paul. Thank you for being the best brother.’ And I hugged him. He was still warm.’ She wipes away tears that threaten to overcome her.
Read more: Sickening moment thug launches savage unprovoked attacked on millionaire banker outside The Ivy that saw him jailed for just three years
‘We were all exhausted. We’d had six months of emotional turbulence, a traumatic journey of horror, hope then devastation.’
Paul Mason died on June 4, 2021, but his funeral was delayed until August while pathologists, examining his body, concluding that he had died of brain damage as a direct result of the attack.
Then, just a month later in mid-September — as if the family had not suffered enough — came the news of Simon’s death.
Rachel, unable to raise her brother on the phone, had contacted the police. ‘I figured he must be drinking heavily again, so I’d reported him missing.
‘Then two police officers came to my door. They came in, asked me if I wanted to sit down. I said, “Is it Simon?” and they said, “Yes, he’s been found dead.”
‘I just couldn’t believe it. Another brother gone. I drove to my parents’ house.’
The Masons live in Effingham, Surrey. ‘My dad could tell from my face that something was wrong. I just said, “Simon has died,” and he nearly fell to the floor, doubled over with shock.
‘I helped him inside. Then I had to tell mum her other son had been found dead. She said: “What, Simon?” She couldn’t process it. She didn’t want to believe it.’
Rachel says: ‘Simon had been doing really well. Paul had supported him in detox and Simon was working in the motor industry and volunteering. Then Paul’s death tipped him over the edge. I believe he took his own life. He knew what would happen if he drank vodka by the bottle.’
Paul was single with no children; Simon leaves a son, aged 14, ‘who must now cope without the love and guidance of his dad and uncle,’ says Rachel. ‘Allan decimated our small family — I have no cousins — and a deep connection with my past, my childhood, has been completely wiped out.’
The reverberations have been horrific. Besieged by nightmares, she grapples to understand the violence that led to her brother’s death.
‘I was joyful. I embraced life. Now I’m scared of people, nervous to walk the streets in case I am attacked by a stranger, hyper-vigilant with my children.
‘Grief and sadness have floored me. People say I’ve been amazing but what choice do I have? The only other option is to crumble.’
She reflects once more on Paul, on his mix of business acumen and kindness, on his support for charities, for friends in need. And then she thinks about the abhorrent man who snuffed out this remarkable, shining life.
‘I feel disgusted by Allan, sick to the pit of my stomach. I don’t know if forgiveness will ever be possible, but I hope it will be, because I do not want to carry this hatred and resentment or it will destroy me — and my wonderful brother Paul would not want that.’
Rachel Mason has donated her fee for this article to her brother’s favourite charities.
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