Michael Phillips murder trial: Hartlepool man lost two and a half litres of blood after attack, jury told

A Hartlepool man who died during an alleged attack at his home had lost two and a half litres of blood, a murder trial jury has heard.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 5:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 11:00 am

Michael Phillips died at an address in the town’s Rydal Street on Monday, June 10, 2019 following a disturbance.

Seven men have denied murdering the Hartlepool man and their trial began at Teesside Crown Court, on Wednesday, January 16.

The defendants are Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court; Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfield Close; Gary Jackson, 31, of The Darlings, 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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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

Darby and Elliott also deny burglary, while Elliott is accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against another man.

Jurors heard evidence from neuropathologist Dr Daniel du Plessis who discussed the damage to the 39-year-old’s brain as a result of the injuries to his chest and abdomen.

Last week, the court heard from Dr Louise Mulcahy, who carried out the post-mortem, that Mr Phillips had suffered 17 rib fractures, which weren’t linked to the CPR chest compressions by emergency service workers, as well as tears to his spleen and left lung.

Dr du Plessis, who carried out the examination on August 9 last year, said it was apparent the victim's brain was swollen to the naked eye and attributed this as a result of a lack of blood and oxygen caused by the injuries to Mr Phillips torso.

He said swelling is a very ‘non specific’ injury but added: “In this case the brain swelling references some form of injury to the brain which could be explained by the chest and abdominal injuries in this case.”

The neuropathologist says this links to the loss of two and a half litres of blood, which is almost half of the circulating blood within Mr Phillips' body.

He said that would lead to a ‘dramatic decrease’ in blood supply to the brain.

Dr du Plessis said that in the body, the organ that gets damages within a matter of minutes, irreversibly so, by a lack of oxygen is the brain.

He continued: “Looking at the brain through a microscope, the most important thing that causes the brain to swell was a lack of blood and oxygen supply.

"Through the microscope, I was able to see features that confirm the brain was denied blood and oxygen.”

During the examination, Dr du Plessis found no evidence of injury to the brain as a result of the depressed skull fracture to Mr Phillips' head.

Although he said he was 'not surprised' by this because it can take up to two hours after the injury for evidence of damage to appear and Mr Phillips died around an hour after the attack occurred.

Dr du Plessis said the chest injuries leading to breathing difficulties and the loss of blood would be the major factors leading to Mr Phillips' death.

He added that the head injuries on their own would have been "survivable" but agrees they could have contributed to his death if it further compromised Mr Phillips' breathing.

The case continues.