“Neil Elliott did not strike Michael Phillips” – defence barrister sums up case in Michael Phillips murder trial

Neil Elliott is one of seven men on trial charged with the murder of Hartlepool man Michael Phillips.

By Sue Kirby
Friday, 21st February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 10:33 am

The Hartlepool businessman’s barrister blamed the Niramax boss’ co-defendant for the murder of Michael Phillips as he summed to the jury.

Nicholas Johnson QC who is representing Elliott said the Lee Darby was the one responsible, not Elliot.

Mr Phillips died at his home address on June 10 last year.

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Seven men are standing trial accused of murdering Michael Phillips (inset)

The prosecuting case is the burglary of Elliott’s daughter sparked a chain of events which lead to Mr Phillips’ death.

Seven men are charged with Mr Phillips’ murder. 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.

Although Mr Johnson said Elliott was in the house at the time, he did not carry out any violence on Mr Phillips and the blame lies with Lee Darby.

He said we will never know what Lee Darby has to say about what happened in that room because he didn't give evidence.

Mr Johnson said: “We say there is strong evidence that Mr Darby is in a position where he accepts that he got involved with the violence of Michael Phillips and you know he has not raised the issue of self-defence.

"I'm sorry to say there is a wealth of evidence that points to Lee Darby."

Mr Johnson said: "Mr Elliott did not strike Michael Phillips.

"We respectfully suggest when you look at the evidence you will not be sure of any one but one of the men in the dock was ever responsible for any direct violence on Michael Phillips."

Mr Johnson said he suggests it was a single person who was responsible for what happened to Michael Phillips and they were not encouraged by Elliott.

Mr Johnson said the prosecution wants the jury to believe Elliott and Darby knew each other well before the attack on Mr Phillips, but that was not the case.

He said following the Facebook written by Elliott about the burglary of his daughter, Darby sent Elliott a message asking him to send him his number.

Mr Johnson said how could this be Elliott trying to recruit Darby, if it was Darby who contacted him?

He said: “Why did Mr Darby not have his phone number if they are such good friends like the prosecution would like them to be, what the prosecution needs them to be if this is a joint enterprise."

And, he added if there were other methods of communication between the two then why would Darby ask for Elliott's number.

Mr Johnson said: "This is Mr Darby offering to help, not Mr Elliott trying to recruit Mr Darby."

All the witnesses have been heard and the prosecuting have summed up their case.

It is now the turn of the defence barristers to put their arguments across.

The case continues.