Michael Phillips murder trial: Live updates as seven men deny Hartlepool killing

The defence case in the trial of seven men accused of the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips has been continuing at Teesside Crown Court today, Wednesday, February 12.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 10:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 4:51 pm

Mr Phillips, who was 39, died following an attack where he received more than 50 injuries in a property on Rydal Street, Hartlepool.

The seven men who deny murder 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.

Refresh for updates from today’s hearing as they happen.

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Seven men accused of the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips will appear at Teesside Crown Court.
Seven men accused of the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips will appear at Teesside Crown Court.

Our reporter Sue Kirby has been at court as the case continues.

Michael Phillips murder trial: live updates as seven stand trial at Teesside Crown Court

Last updated: Wednesday, 12 February, 2020, 12:57

  • Michael Phillips, 39, died in Hartlepool on Monday, June 10 last year.
  • He suffered more than 50 injuries after an attack at his home on Rydal Street.
  • Seven men deny murder.
  • Defendants Neil Elliott and Anthony Small have given their evidence in court.
  • Defendant Lee Darby has chosen not to give evidence in his defence. 

10.30am: Who is accused of Mr Phillips' murder?

Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court

Also denies a charge of burglary in connection with the incident. 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.

10.45am: The trial into the murder of Hartlepool's Michael Phillips is continuing today.

Defendant John Musgrave, who was giving evidence all day yesterday, is back on the stand for a second day.

Prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC will be continuing with his cross-examination of Musgrave, who claims he was never in the house where Mr Phillips was beaten.

10.50am: The trial has resumed.

Defendant John Musgrave, who was giving evidence all day yesterday, is back on the stand for a second day.

Prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC will be continuing with his cross-examination of Musgrave, who claims he was never in the house where Mr Phillips was beaten.

10.55am: Mr Johnson is asking Musgrave about his police statement about what Lee Darby is wearing.

He said the answer was: "I can remember Dibsy is always into trackies."

However, the court had previously heard from Musgrave that he didn't know Lee Darby before that day.

Musgrave told the court he meant to day he was wearing trackies.

However, Mr Johnson said: "You knew him pretty well didn't you?"

Musgrave said: "No, I didn't know him at all."

11am: Mr Johnson is discussing Musgrave going to Westbourne Road earlier in the day with his cousin.

The court has been shown a video of him in the street.

Musgrave said yesterday he was in the street to visit his aunt and uncle.

Johnson said: "You know you were on the street at lunchtime to see if you could get CCTV to see if you could find the burglar.

"You paid a prominent role throughout the day and you didn't want to reveal that to the police?"

Musgrave said: "No, I did not."

11.02am: Mr Johnson is talking about later in the day in question when Musgrave joined Elliott, Sean Musgrave and Craig Thorpe in driving down Oxford Road in Hartlepool.

He said if there is no suggestion they were looking for information about the burglary why were they there?

Musgrave said: "We were just driving to see if anyone could find the coat and get the keys back."

Mr Johnson said: "It was your thought when you asked Sean and Craig that you would be driving down to get information about this burglary."

Musgrave said: "No, sir I did not."

11.10am: Mr Johnson is asking Musgrave about the metal bar which was found in Elliott's car.

He said: "Did you notice the metal bar at your feet?"

Musgrave said: "I didn't sir."

Mr Johnson said: "Did you see Dibsy put the metal bar there?"

Musgrave said: "No sir I didn't."

Mr Johnson said: "You said you didn't see any weapons at all."

Musgrave said: "I didn't."

Mr Johnson said: "If you had seen a metal bar would you have said something."

Musgrave said: "I would have said what's that for?"

Mr Johnson said: "Have you ever seen a metal bar in the front of his (Elliott's) car?"

Musgrave said: "No sir."

Mr Johnson went on to say: "You had a cosh didn't you?"

Musgrave said: "Me? No I didn't have any weapon at all. Why would I have weapons?"

11.22am: Mr Johnson said in his statement to the police Musgrave didn't mention going back to the car to get the laptop when they were in Rydal Street.

He said he told police he was with Sean Musgrave and Craig Thorpe the whole time.

Musgrave said: "Yes sir, I did, I panicked."

11.40am: Musgrave is being asked about going into Mr Phillips' house on the night in question.

He told the police he didn't walk up the street that far.

He said: "I was hoping there were witnesses in the street that I didn't go up to 38."

Musgrave said he saw Elliott take his laptop into number 38 and that he also saw the dog flying out the door.

Mr Johnson said: "Mr Musgrave the truth is that Mr Small, Mr Darby and Mr Elliott went in first and you and the others went in after."

Musgrave said: "No definitely not."

He said: "I am telling you now, I was not in that house, Sean wasn't in there and Craig wasn't in there, we were not in that house."

11.55am: Mr Johnson is asking about who was in the car when they left Rydal Street.

Musgrave told the police they went straight to his house to drop him off.

In his statement he said nothing was discussed in the car.

Mr Johnson said: "The fourth thing you didn't mention in your interview was the fact you got a lift off Stephen West.

"What made you think it would be quicker to go with Stephen West than in the Mercedes?"

Musgrave said: "I just wanted to be home."

Mr Johnson said: "Why didn't you tell them (the police) you went back in Stephen West's car, why did you say you went back in the Mercedes without a stop?"

Musgrave said: "I don't know."

12.02pm: Mr Johnson is going over the calls that were made from Musgrave's phone to his son Sean following the attack on Mr Phillips.

Musgrave said three of them were to do with a Chinese meal.

Mr Johnson said: "This is nonsense.

"These calls are to do with you trying to get away with an attack you played a part in."

Musgrave said: "Definitely not. You have absolutely got it wrong."

Talking about Musgrave going to the caravan at Crimdon Dene the next day, Mr Johnson said: "You told police you went to the caravan as part of your anniversary.

"The truth is you were just trying to get away, you were trying to hide."

Musgrave said: "Why would I want to hide? I handed myself in."

12.40pm: The case has resumed following a short break.

Mr Johnson is talking about Musgrave getting a second phone the following day.

He said he believes the phone was an attempt by Musgrave to evade the police.

Musgrave said it wasn't. He also denies being in the Crimdon Dene area with Lee Darby.

Asked if he had deleted calls from his phone, Musgrave said: "I didn't. You are just talking rubbish again sir."

.

Mr Johnson said Musgrave did go into number 38 and he was the last one stamping on Mr Phillips.

He said: "You flee and try to cover your tracks."

Musgrave said: "No I did not."

Mr Johnson said: "When the net was closing in you decided to lie to the police hoping to get away with what you had done."

Musgrave said: "No, definitely not, you have got it wrong."

12.53am: Nigel Edwards QC, who is representing John Musgrave, said: "Did you tell the police the truth, did you tell them all you could remember at that time?"

Musgrave replied: "Yes, I did tell the truth."

Mr Edwards said: "Have you told the jury the truth?"

Musgrave said: "Yes, I have."

12.57pm: Musgrave has left the witness box after finishing his evidence and the case has been adjourned for lunch.

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