Michael Phillips murder trial: Jury likely to be selected as hearings of seven Hartlepool men get underway

A jury is likely to be sworn in tomorrow as the trial of seven Hartlepool men charged with murder begins.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 4:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 4:59 pm
Michael Phillips, 39, died after he was found with "significant injuries" in a house in Rydal Street in Hartlepool last June.
Michael Phillips, 39, died after he was found with "significant injuries" in a house in Rydal Street in Hartlepool last June.

Michael Phillips, 39, died on Monday, June 10, last year, at a house in Rydal Street in the town following a disturbance that night.

At the time, Cleveland Police said Mr Phillips suffered “significant injuries” prior to his death, with the house cordoned off by officers for several days as an investigation got underway.

Seven men deny his murder and are due to stand trial at Teesside Crown Court, with the hearing expected last between four and up to five weeks.

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Police at in Rydal Street as Cleveland Police launched a murder inquiry into the death of Michael Phillips.

The court was told that before the case is opened, a jury will be selected to sit during its full course, with the first day of proceedings taken up by giving a questionnaire to potential jurors.

A selection process began during the afternoon and will continue in the morning.

The Honourable Mr Justice Jacobs told more than 50 people selected for jury service to consider the answers to five questions to help decide if they are suitable, including whether they know anyone in the case and if they have any responsibilities and commitments which may impact on their ability to sit until its conclusion.

The case is expected to resume tomorrow from 10.30am.

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

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

An inquest opened at Teesside Coroner’s Court on Monday, October 21, heard Mr Phillips died as a result of torso and head injuries.

His inquest was adjourned pending the outcome of the crown court proceedings.

As the initial stages of the trial began, there was a packed public gallery for a series of short proceedings while legal matters were discussed and arrangements made ahead of the opening speeches.