Michael Phillips murder trial: Accused explain how they were asked to help in search for suspected car thieves

Men accused of murdering Michael Phillips have told how they were asked by a Niramax boss to search for suspected car thieves.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 6:00 am

Mr Phillips, 39, was pronounced dead at a house in Rydal Street, Hartlepool, on the night of Monday, June 10, following an attack which left him with more than 50 injuries.

Seven men deny his murder and are standing trial at Teesside Crown Court.

They are Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court; Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfield Close; Gary Jackson, 31, of The Darlings in Hart Village; John Musgrave, 54, of Wordsworth Avenue; Sean Musgrave, 30, also of Wordsworth Avenue; Anthony Small, 40, of Rydal Street, and Craig Thorpe, 36, of Young Street.

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Seven men are accused of the murder of Michael Phillips and are on trial at Teesside Crown Court.
Seven men are accused of the murder of Michael Phillips and are on trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Darby and Elliott also deny a charge of burglary.

The case centres on events following the theft of Elliott’s daughter’s car.

The court has heard CCTV from Westbourne Road, where the car was recovered, was sourced by Niramax waste firm director Elliott as efforts were made to trace the thieves.

The jury has also been told Elliott, in the company of a group of men, had a laptop with the footage on it when they arrived in Rydal Street.

Police in Rydal Street as inquiries got underway last June following the death of Michael Phillips.

The interviews of John Musgrave and Thorpe were read to the court today, Wednesday, January 29, after they went to a police station to talk to officers on Tuesday, June 12, on hearing of Sean Musgrave’s arrest.

John Musgrave explained he was a former neighbour of Elliott’s and was asked to retrieve the footage on his behalf, while Thorpe was with workmate Sean Musgrave when they were asked to help in the search.

They said they did not know Mr Phillips and stayed outside while others went to houses in Rydal Street with the help of Small.

When asked about Elliott, John Musgrave said: “He’s always been alright with me, he can be nasty, horrible to other people.

“But listen, he owns Niramax, but he’s always been alright with me, he’s my friend.”

Thorpe told police of Elliott: “He’s a businessman, he’s got quite a big business empire.

“I wouldn’t have said he was going to do anything untoward or anything like that.”

The case will continue at 10am on January 30.