Michael Phillips murder trial: Live updates as the trial of seven men continues at Teesside Crown Court

Seven men accused of the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips will appear at Teesside Crown Court as the defence cases continue on Tuesday, February 11.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 5:20 pm

The men have all denied the charge of murder after 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 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 Tuesday’s hearing as they happen. Our reporter Sue Kirby is at court as the case continues in Teesside.

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

Michael Phillips murder trial: Latest updates from Teesside Crown Court as John Musgrave gives evidence

Last updated: Tuesday, 11 February, 2020, 11:52

  • 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.
  • The prosecution alleged that Mr Phillips was targeted after a car, belonging to one of the defendant's daughters, was stolen.
  • The trial, which opened on Wednesday, January 15, has detailed the prosecution's case against the men charged with the killing.
  • Defendants Neil Elliott and Anthony Small have given their evidence in court.
  • Defendant Lee Darby has chosen not to give evidence in his defence. 



RECAP: What do the prosecution say happened to Mr Phillips?

Jurors have been told that Michael Phillips, 39, died at a property in Hartlepool's Rydal Street on Monday, June 10 last year.

He was living at the premises at the time and suffered serious injuries in an attack which led to his death. 

It is the prosecution's case that Mr Phillips was beaten up following the theft of a car in Hartlepool, which belonged to the daughter of the one of the defendant's in this case. 

He suffered more than 50 injuries including 17 rib fractures, a fractured skull and internal bleeding in his torso. 

The trial of seven men charged with the murder of Michael Phillips, 39, is ongoing at Teesside Crown Court.

RECAP: Who is charged with murder?

Lee Darby - represented by Caroline Goodwin QC and Jane Foley. He also denies a charge of burglary in connection with the incident.

Neil Elliott - represented by Dominic Thomas and Nicholas Johnson QC (note: there are two barristers of the same name at this hearing). Elliott is also charged with burglary and assault occasioning bodily harm.

Gary Jackson - represented by Stephen Constantine and John Elvidge.

Sean Musgrave - represented by Ayesha Smart and John Harrison QC

John Musgrave - represented by Nigel Edwards QC and Lewis Kerr

Anthony Small - represented by Martin Scarborough and Nicholas Lumley

Craig Thorpe - represented by Mark Trafford QC and Soheil Khan.

Who are the prosecutors in the case? Nicholas Johnson QC and Jolyon Perks.

The judge in this case is The Honourable Mr Justice Jacobs.

RECAP: What happened in court on Monday, February 10

Anthony Small, 40, told a jury at Teesside Crown Court where he and six others are on trial for murder, that he knocked on drug user Mr Phillips’ front door in Rydal Street on the night of Monday, June 10 last year.

He said he was trying to help Niramax boss Neil Elliott, 44, identify people on CCTV footage in relation to a burglary and was told by another neighbour in the street that Mr Phillips might know who they were.

He denied knowing Mr Phillips was going to get hurt.

The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court.

10.45am: Trial resumes as defendant John Musgrave begins to give his evidence

The trial in the murder of Michael Phillips is underway again this morning.

Defendant John Barry Musgrave, 54, of Hartlepool's Wordsworth Avenue has taken to the stand.


10.50am: John Musgrave says he has been in trouble with police before

His barrister Nigel Edwards QC asked him if he has been in trouble with the police before and Musgrave said 'yes I have'.

He said he had been in trouble for theft and handling waste scrap in the 1980s.

He also said he got a caution in 2003 for breaking a window.

Asked if he had been involved in any violence - Musgrave said 'no sir'.

10.55am: Murder took place on 30th wedding anniversary

The court has heard that the date of Michael Phillips' murder was on John Musgrave's 30th wedding anniversary.

Musgrave said on the night of June 10: "We were going to go out for a meal on the 10th but I just couldn't be bothered.

"I am not a one for going out or anything like that."

11am: Court hears how Musgrave is carer for son

The court hears details of Musgrave's family life and learns that he has four sons and one daughter.

Musgrave said he is a carer for his oldest son, Martin, who has learning difficulties.

Asked by Mr Edwards how often he looks after Martin, he said: "Most of the day I look after him."

The defendant broke down in tears when seeing a photo of Martin.

He said: "I shower him and all sorts, I get him dressed. I do everything for him to tell you the truth."

He said his wife, Sarah, is on medication and has to take it every four hours, 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm.  He gives her the medication.

11.05am: Musgrave speaks of financial strain

Musgrave said in terms of looking after his wife and son there is no-one else there to assist.

He said his son, Sean, lives over the road.

Musgrave said son Sean would phone him all the time and he would ring him.

Mr Edwards said: "Are you a close family."

Musgrave said: "Yes definitely."

The defendant said he makes some money to top up benefits selling scrap.

He said: "I shouldn't be scrapping."

But, he said financially things are tough.

11.10am: Musgrave speaks well of co-accused Craig Thorpe

Musgrave was asked if he knew Craig Thorpe.

He said: "I have known him for a few years now, he works with my son Sean.

"He's a nice bloke."

Musgrave said prior to June 10 he didn't know Gary Jackson, Lee Darby or Anthony Small.

11.15am: Musgrave speaks of relationship with co-accused Elliott

He's a nice bloke Neil.

Musgrave said on the morning of June 10 Neil Elliott, one of the other defendants, rang him to wish him happy anniversary and told him about his daughter being burgled. He said he had known Elliott for about 20 years. Asked when he first met him, he said: "He was living around the corner with his mam and dad. "His dad was a lovely bloke and his mam was nice. "He is a nice bloke Neil."

11.20am: Musgrave denies going along with an assault

He said the Elliott family were brought up alright.

Musgrave said Elliott and his partner and children also lived a few doors away from him for about 10 years.

Mr Edwards said "The suggestion is you are so close to him that you would go along with an assault.

Musgrave replied: "Definitely not."

11.25am: "Was there a suggestion of going to find the bloke and kill him?"

Mr Edwards asked if Elliott was angry when he told Musgrave about the burglary and Musgrave said no.

Mr Edwards said: "Was he asking you to do anything?"

Musgrave: "No."

Mr Edwards: "Was there a suggestion of going to find the bloke and kill him?"

Musgrave: "Definitely not."

The defendant said neither himself or Elliott are that kind of person.

11.30am: Musgrave visited family on the day Mr Phillips died

On the day of Michael Phillips' death, John Musgrave and his wife, Sarah, went to visit their daughter, Laura, and got a taxi.

Musgrave said he has never driven or had a car.

He said a number of phone calls with his son, Sean, were nothing to do with Elliott.

He said he had been out to visit his aunt and uncle in Westbourne Road during the day.

Musgrave said he phoned Ellliott on the afternoon because his next door neighbour told him he had been round to see him.

He said: "I phoned to ask why he had been round. He said 'it doesn't matter now'."

11.45am: Musgrave went to pick up envelope after receiving call from Elliott

Musgrave said at about 5.45pm he and his wife went to Seaton Carew in a taxi to play the slot machines, which they do about once a week.

He said: "We have to get home so I can give Sarah her tablets at 8pm."

Musgrave said he booked a taxi for about 7.15pm to take them both home.

He said while he was at Seaton he got a phone call from Elliott asking him to go to Westbourne Road to pick up an envelope with a chip.

He said he dropped his wife Sarah off at home and Craig Thorpe, who was at his son Sean's house over the road, took him to pick up the envelope.

When they got back to Musgrave's house, Elliott came and put the chip into a  laptop.

11.50am: No suggestion they were looking for anyone

The court has heard that Elliott asked Musgrave if he wanted a drive down Oxford Road and he said yes.

Musgrave said: "I asked Sean and Craig if they wanted a ride down."

"Oxford Road is only a couple of minutes from my house

"I had to be back at 8pm to give Sarah her tablets."

He said during the car ride there was nothing unusual and no suggestion they were looking for anyone.

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