Two sides of Hartlepool Niramax boss Neil Elliott put before Michael Phillips murder jury

A jury was told of two different sides of Hartlepool businessman Neil Elliott as he stands trial accused of murder.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 9:52 am

On one hand he was described as a community-spirited charity supporter, and on the other hand the jury were told he had recruited a gang to hand out ‘mob justice’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Police in Rydal Street, Hartlepool, as inquiries got underway following the death of Michael Phillips.

The 39-year-old died after suffering more than 50 injuries inside a house in Rydal Street in the town on Monday, June 10, following a burglary at the home of Elliott’s daughters’ where a car and cash were stolen.

Also on trial are Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court; 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.

Michael Phillips died after sustaining more than 50 injuries in an attack inside a house in Rydal Street.

Elliott, 44, of Brierfield Close, and Darby also deny burglary.

Prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC said that the attack was personal so Elliott ‘made sure to get a kick in’.

Mr Johnson QC said to Elliot : “A man died and you were telling police you wished to fully cooperate.

“You said you were shocked and devastated and couldn’t stop thinking about what his family were going through.

The case is being heard at Teesside Crown Court.

“I suggest this was cheap, because every single one of your actions on June 10 have been aimed at achieving the opposite.

“Your aim was to cause life-changing harm to that burglar and to do that recruited a team to do that.

“Because this was your daughters’ house that was burgled, this was personal, so you made sure you gave him a kick yourself.”

Elliott denied this and responded “No” to all of Mr Johnson’s questioning.

Elliott has admitted punching Mr Phillips’s friend Lee Hardwell twice, but denied using a bat to strike Mr Phillips, claiming it – and a metal bar – had been in his Mercedes X-Class from previous, innocent use.

He said he panicked after hearing someone died. The court heard he smashed and dumped his phone and a laptop which had played CCTV of the burglary suspects, before going to Coventry to “clear his head,” with the plan to later hand himself in.

Elliott’s legal team also read statements, explaining that he was involved in community projects.

Jim O’Connor, of Dorothy’s Well, said Elliott had donated cash from his company to fund wells and toilets in Tanzania, with one of the wells dedicated to his late father.

Another was from Dave Picken, of West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club, who said Elliott was a “well-respected face” as a parent and used his expertise to help the club.

The hearing will resume at 10.30am on Monday, February 10.