Michael Phillips murder trial: Defendant Craig Thorpe gives evidence as he and six other Hartlepool men deny murder

A jury has now been hearing evidence in the trial of seven Hartlepool men who deny the murder of Michael Phillips for over a month.

Monday, 17th February 2020, 4:26 pm
Michael Phillips

The 39-year-old died on the evening of Monday, June 10, last year following an attack inside a house in Rydal Street in the town.

Mr Phillips having sustained more than 50 injuries in the assault, including a number to his head and torso.

Despite emergency services trying for 40 minutes to save him, Mr Phillips sadly died.

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The defendants Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court; Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfields 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.

Elliott and Darby also deny burglary.

Michael Phillips murder trial: Latest updates from Teesside Crown Court as trial continues

Last updated: Monday, 17 February, 2020, 14:20

  • Seven men stand trial accused of murdering Michael Phillips
  • Members of the jury have been sitting on the trial for a month, having been sworn in on Wednesday, January 15
  • Accused Neil Elliott, John Musgrave, Anthony Small and Gary Jackson have been among those to appear in the witness box from the defendants during the hearings

RECAP: Who is accused of Mr Phillips' murder?

Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court. Represented by Caroline Goodwin QC and Jane Foley.

Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfields Close. Represented by Dominic Thomas and Nicholas Johnson QC.

Gary Jackson, 31, of The Darlings in Hart Village. Represented by Stephen Constantine and John Elvidge.

Sean Musgrave, 30, of Wordsworth Avenue. Represented by Ayesha Smart and John Harrison QC

John Musgrave, 54, of Wordsworth Avenue. Represented by Nigel Edwards QC and Lewis Kerr.

Anthony Small, 40, of Rydal Street. Represented by Martin Scarborough and Nicholas Lumley.

Craig Thorpe, 36, of Young Street. Represented by Mark Trafford QC and Soheil Khan.

11.45am: Delay to start of trial on Monday morning

The trial is yet to resumed this morning. We'll bring you updates as soon as today's hearing begins. 

12.20pm: Today's hearing is under way

The defendants are now in the dock and the public gallery is full. 

Accused Craig Thorpe will be giving evidence today and has now entered the witness box. 

12.30pm: Court hears about Craig Thorpe's past

Jurors are being told about details of Craig Thorpe's family and early life.

He has a partner and three children. He left school at 16 with two GCSEs. He went on to work for a wheelie bin cleaning firm in Hartlepool for nine years.

He later got a job at Protherm in Middlesbrough. He has worked there over the last 10 years and worked around different parts of the UK.

When he was young he did get into some trouble with the police.

12.40pm: Thorpe told police he didn't have a phone as he needed it for work

Jurors have been told that Thorpe told the court he didn't have a phone because he needed it for work.

Thorpe did have a phone and has told the court he didn't think he had done anything wrong when he turned up at the police station. 

1.08pm: Jurors hear Thorpe's movements

Jurors have heard the events in the run up to Thorpe going to Rydal Street. 

Teesside Crown Court has heard that Thorpe had gone to see John Musgrave after work and was chatting in the garden with him. 

He then went to Sean Musgrave's house to look at accommodation for a work trip to Leeds the following day

1.22pm: Thorpe asked about his relationship with co-accused Neil Elliott

Thorpe said: "John Musgrave then called Sean Musgrave asking to see if I would take him a message."

The court has heard that he went to Westbourne Road to pick something up for Neil Elliott.

Asked: "Did you know Neil Elliott at that time?" Thorpe replied 'no'.

Asked did you have a friendship with Neil Elliott outside of friendship with John Musgrave. He said: "No."

1.31pm: Elliott arrives in black Mercedes

The court has heard that after going to Westbourne Road, Thorpe came back to continue taking Sean and John Musgrave. 

Elliott turned up in a black Mercedes and Thorpe along with John and Sean Musgrave went to see Elliott who was in his car.

John got into the passenger side while Thorpe stood on the path.

Jurors heard how there came an occasion when Thorpe saw the CCTV on the laptop. Asked whether it meant anything to him, he said "no."

1. 35pm: Thorpe says there were no weapons in the car

He said that he then went to go home but John Musgrave shouted him back. Thorpe said:"John Musgrave shouted back and said do you want to go for a ride out? "

Thorpe: "I just said yeah."

Thorpe said he didnt think they would be long as Oxford Road is not far.

Asked if he saw any weapons in the car he said "no."

1.37pm: Thorpe said there "wasn't a plan"

Mark Trafford QC, who is defending Thorpe, asked if Thorpe was able to see into the back of the car he said."no"

Thorpe said: "There wasn't a plan we were just going to see if anyone recognised someone on the CCTV."

Mr Trafford QC then asked if he was encouraging of any plan to hurt anyone in any way, he said: "no, definitely not."

1.40pm: Group picked up Lee Darby

He said that on the way they picked up Lee Darby.

Thorpe said Darby was not a friend but that "he knew who he was."

Thorpe said they stopped at the Premier Store on Cornwall Street where others in the car showed someone the CCTV.

The group then drove to  Keswick Street and walked to Rydal Street as a group.

1.42pm: Thorpe was 'possibly in the passageway' of the house

Mr Trafford QC asked if he had any active role in showing the CCTV, Thorpe said "no."

He was then asked if he knew anyone on Rydal Street he said no.

Thorpe confirmed he had come across a man called Ozzy Small but said he wasn't a friend. 

The court heard the group went to a house on Rydal Street and Elliot, Darby and Small went in. 

Small had knocked on the door.

Thorpe said he was "possibly in the passageway" of the house.

1.45pm: Thorpe talks through what he says happened on Rydal Street

Thorpe said he along with Elliott and the Musgraves were talking to a man in the front room about paint as he had glossed the doors.

He said "John had to go and get the CCTV from the car. Lee Darby had took it up to the lad upstairs."

Mr Trafford QC asked if they left the house at the same time. Thorpe replied "pretty much."

Thorpe said Small, Darby and Elliott went to a second house on the street while he remained outside of the first house talking to the man in it.

He said this is when Gary Jackson arrived and Thorpe confirmed that he didn't know him. 

1.48pm: Thorpe denies going into Mr Phillips' house

He said Darby, Elliott and Jackson went through the door of the second house - Mr Phillips' house.

Mr Trafford QC asked if were Thorpe was expecting any trouble at all, he replied "no."

Thorpe said he remained out in the street.

Asked if he was taking notice of anything that was going on in Rydal Street that evening, Thorpe said "not really."

Mr Trafford QC then asked if on leaving Rydal Street anyone was in a particular hurry or running. Thorpe said no.

He said he went back to the car in Keswick Street.

He said he did not see anyone carrying an item that looked like a weapon.

Thorpe said he went back to Wordsworth Avenue and back to his girlfriend's house

2.20pm: Jury back in court following lunch break

The jury are back in court following a lunch break. Craig Thorpe will continue giving evidence. 

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