Michael Phillips murder trial: Final three defence barristers due to sum up evidence in case

Jurors are expected to hear the summing up of Sean Musgrave, Gary Jackson and Craig Thorpe defence barristers as the trial into the murder of Michael Phillips enters its seventh week.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 2:40 pm
Updated Monday, 24th February 2020, 2:40 pm
The murder trial continues.

Seven men are charged with Mr Phillips’ murder.

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They are: 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.

Michael Phillips murder trial: Final three defence barristers due to sum up evidence in case

Last updated: Monday, 24 February, 2020, 16:44

  • Seven men have been accused of murdering Hartlepool man Michael Phillips, who died on June 10, 2019, in Rydal Street.
  • The trial, which began in January, is continuing at Teesside Crown Court on Monday, February 24 - it has now entered its seventh week.
  • The trial, which is drawing to a close, is due to begin at 2pm.

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.

RECAP: What happened in court on Friday?

Miss Caroline Goodwin QC, representing Lee Dary, one of the seven accused, warned he should not be used as a “convenient scapegoat” for the killing.

The court also heard from the defence barristers for John Musgrave and Anthony Small. 

2.20pm: Jurors enter the courtroom

The trial into the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips has resumed this afternoon.

The jury has been brought in and there is a packed public gallery.

The court is about to hear from John Harrison QC, who is representing Sean Musgrave.

2.26pm: "Mr Musgrave's character is very important."

Mr Harrison said: "The first part of applying common sense is to decide where and how Sean Musgrave fits into this case?"

He said he is so important that the main prosecuting QC didn't cross examine him.

He said: "Mr Musgrave's character is very important. He has two cautions one when he was 11 for shoplifting and one in 2014 for breaking a window in his own home."

Quoting from a reference, he said: "Mr Sean Musgrave is polite, well mannered and punctual.

"He is well humoured and easy to get on with."

Mr Harrison said would someone with such a good character get involved in something like this, intending to go out and commit murder?

2.41pm: Evidence points at nothing more than he went in Elliott's car

Mr Harrison QC said of course Mr Musgrave's character does not mean he could not commit a murder, but it is unlikely.

He said: "Sean Musgave's character makes it highly unlikely he would act in the way the prosecution say he did."

Mr Harrison said that in the case of Musgrave all the evidence proves is nothing more than he went in Elliott's car.

He said is does not show what his intention was.

2.43pm: Prosecution's case is that all day he was plotting to find the burglars and cause harm

Mr Harrison QC said the prosecution case is that all day Sean Musgrave was plotting to find the burglars and cause harm.

But, he said: "We say, on his behalf, the prosecution is a long way from making you sure of their case. 

"The evidence, in fact, in Mr Musgrave's case is rather that he never at any stage intended to commit murder or cause serious harm."

2.46pm: "It is so tenuous beyond belief"

Mr Harrison is talking about the phone calls made between Sean Musgrave and his father John Musgrave.

He said the prosecution case is that the first phone call was Sean ringing his dad to get him involved in causing serious injury of murder.

Mr Harrison said: "If the tragic events which happened were not so serious we would be making light of the prosecution case. It is so tenuous beyond belief."

2.58pm: 'He was taken to a police station and left to stew for hours'

In his original interview Sean Musgrave remained silent, just giving 'no comment' answers.

Mr Harrison said: "He took free legal advice.

"He is arrested at 3am in the morning, taken to a police station and left to stew for hours.

"He took free legal advice and we would suggest that is an entirely reasonable thing to do and it shouldn't be held against him."

He said that the prosecution believe the main piece of evidence is why he split up from his father after they went to Rydal Street and John Musgrave got into Mr West's car in a bid to get home quicker.

Mr Harrison said: "The fact he chose not to go home with Mr West show's he was not concerned about what he had seen or heard."

He asked had he been involved in the attack wouldn't it be that he would have taken the opportunity to get home as quickly as possible?

3.09pm: Defence question evidence from key witness

Mr Harrison QC has questioned the evidence of Lee Hardwell who lived with Mr Phillips and was there at the time of the attack.

He said: "Mr Hardwell did not identify Sean Musgrave when invited to do so in an identity parade.

"How come he didn't identify those who were in such a small room."

However, he said Mr Hardwell did identify Anthony Small and Lee Darby.

He said he would suggest the jury should treat Mr Hardwell's evidence as 'wholly unreliable'.

He said of Sean Musgrave: "He didn't go into [the address in] Rydal Street and couldn't have attacked the deceased. He didn't assist or encourage anyone."

Mr Harrison said the evidence does not prove, so the jury is sure, that he attacked Mr Phillips or assisted or encouraged anyone.

The case has adjourned for a short break.

3.48pm: "He didn't run away from anything"

The trial has resumed following the break and John Elvidge QC is giving evidence in defence of Gary Jackson.

He said he was arrested on June 11 as he was going about his normal working day.

He said as he often did he had two dogs and two telephones in the car, one for personal use and one for business.

Mr Elvidge said: "He didn't run away from anything - the only things recovered from his car of significance was the telephones."

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