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Dartford pub worker 'blames herself' over Ben Mahoney kebab shop fight death
A DARTFORD barmaid says she "blames herself" for Ben Mahoney’s violent death after declining his offer of a walk home.
Claire Bennett, 40, bumped into the electrician by the East Hill laundrette moments before he walked into a takeaway at around 11.15pm on April 12 and got into a fight with a stranger that would claim his life - while Mrs Bennett sat at home.
Eddy Ives, 29, beat Mr Mahoney to death after the pair got into an argument over Ives’ rude treatment of staff at the House on the Hill kebab shop where his victim was a regular customer.
On Friday at Maidstone Crown Court Ives, of no fixed address but from the Gravesend area, was found guilty of Mr Mahoney’s manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison.
During his sentencing it also emerged he had passed a photograph of Mr Mahoney’s battered body under a cell door to another prisoner while at Lewes Prison on July 6 awaiting trial.
Mrs Bennett knew Ben Mahoney from when the 30-year-old used to come into the Foresters pub in Great Queen Street up to four times a week with pals.
She was on her way home from a shift when she stopped for a chit-chat with Mr Mahoney and friend Billy Cheetham after the pair had been drinking at The Woodman pub nearby during which Mr Mahoney offered to accompany her on the short walk to her home in Park Road.
She told News Shopper: "I said ‘don’t be daft, I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again’.
"But within 10 minutes I was sat at home and he was dead.
"Sometimes I blame myself - if only I had said 'yes' to a walk home it might never have happened. People say don’t think like that but I do.
"It was disbelief, absolute and total disbelief when I found out.
"It’s just a rollercoaster of emotions and that is how I feel, so I dread to think what his family feels.
"It's a minimal sentence and he'll probably come straight out and do it again so more people will be made to suffer like Ben's family have."
Fellow Foresters barmaid Fay Martin has described Mr Mahoney's killer as "evil" and branded Ives' sentence "better than nothing".
Ives has a previous conviction for witness intimidation after punching a man in a row over a stolen travel card – an attack which was reported to police, only for Ives to assault the man a second time by punching him and urinating on him.
Mr Mahoney’s mother Barbara said she is "heartbroken" at the loss of the keen West Ham fan and paid tribute to someone who was "always happy and smiling".
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