Two people are standing trial accused of murdering teenager Owen Kerry on Christmas Eve.
Brian Cahill and Lyndsey Harper are accused of killing Owen at a social club in Cramlington, Northumberland, which they deny.
The 19-year-old was allegedly stabbed in an attack at Cramlington Working Men’s Club on December 24.
Police were called to the club at 10.30pm on Christmas Eve following a report from the ambulance service that a man had been injured.
Owen, who lived in Cramlington, was treated by paramedics at the scene and was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, but died in the early hours of Christmas Day.
Cahill, 35, of Northern Terrace, Dudley and Harper, 36, of Queens Gardens, Annitsford, both North Tyneside, are accused of a joint attack, with Cahill alleged to have delivered the fatal blow. Both deny murder.
“Although Lyndsey Harper would, if she was asked, prefer you to convict her of manslaughter than murder, no less is it important for the prosecution to make you sure that Lyndsey Harper was aware he had a knife, aware he was going to use it and aware he was going to use it with murderous intent.
“Whether it’s murder or manslaughter, all of that has to be set in the context of the seconds it took for that explosion of violence in which he dies.
“It’s for those reasons we submit the only safe verdicts here, however appallingly Lyndsey Harper has behaved, are not guilty on this indictment.”
That completes the closing speeches in the case.
The trial is adjourned until tomorrow when the judge will begin his summing up.
“There is always another way to look at the evidence.
“In painstakingly analysing the evidence as you will, this open and shut approach of the prosecution, based on a distressed woman behaving appallingly at the same time as a man secretly was killing Owen Kerry, is a weak case and a case which bears interpretation far more along the lines we submit.
“And therefore the only safe verdicts you can give in this case are verdicts of not guilty.”
Mr Woodcock says Harper may have been “being turbulent and a damn right nuisance” and suggests her “appalling” behaviour coincided with the moment Owen “doubtless for good reason” confronted Cahill and was then “secretly and furtively” stabbed.
“If that is a summary of the evidence that is accurate, why then, without forgiving Lyndsey Harper too much, nonetheless it is a far far cry from evidence that could satisfy the jury she was in those moments lending support to a murder committed by Brian Cahill.”
“I don’t think it can be overstated that what occurred, the incident in which Owen Kerry received his fatal injury, his only injury, was a moment in the course of that sudden unexpected explosion of violence.
“What she has had to say is, or at least might be, right, and if it is there is nothing in what she says that could remotely persuade you, so you are sure, that she, in picking up a glass...could possibly have known that Cahill had at that moment got a knife out and was about to plunge it into Owen Kerry.”
“Where is the evidence that says to you so you can be sure of it that Lyndsey Harper knew Cahill had a knife about him?
“Where is the evidence that makes you sure that, knowing he had a knife, something was unfolding that made her know Cahill would pull out that knife and use it with murderous intent?
“There is no evidence and it’s a wholly unrealistic conclusion the prosecution ask you to draw.”
“Details which are likely to engender in you, for understandable reasons, a high degree of disgust which translates all too readily into a prejudice, which is a very very poor search light when you are asked to find your way through the darkness.”
“What you have heard is conduct in the club which resulted in a tragic waste of human life.
“That’s an event it’s impossible to believe those affected by it will be anywhere near coming to terms with yet.
“Doubtless there have been in this trial people sitting in the public gallery who are most affected by it as horrible details were revealed, sitting there quietly in dignity.”
“We respectfully submit the prosecution is woefully short of the standard it must reach in order to convince you she is in fact guilty of this offence of murder.”
Mr Woodcock says Harper has “demonstrated a degree of realism and contrition” in admitting “she had behaved appallingly” that night - in relation to people other than Owen.
He added: “It allows you to say that actually gets her off to a pretty good start.”
“It is, of course, a high standard the Crown must reach before you are entitled to come to the conclusion the Crown seek and you can return a verdict of guilty to any offence.”
Mr Woodcock said to jurors: “When you reach your decision you will, we respectfully submit, if you incline towards the submissions we make on behalf of Lyndsey Harper, you will come to the conclusion not only that you can’t be sure she is guilty of the offences with which she is charged and indeed on the evidence she is not guilty of the offences with which she is charged.”
Mr Woodcock says Harper is “in an entirely different position” to Cahill.
Robert Woodcock QC, for Harper, is now making his closing speech.
Referring to Cahill’s actions after the alleged stabbing, Mr Makepeace says: “Every decision he made afterwards is wrong.
“But none of that goes to whether he is guilty of murder.”
That concludes Mr Makepeace’s speech.
Referring to Cahill’s version of events, Mr Makepeace says: “It’s not beyond the realms of possibility.”
The prosecution have poured scorn on his account. That’s a free hit.
He is devoid of the speed of thought to parry the clever questions the prosecution asked him.
He is not a bright young man by any stretch of the imagination.
“Brian Cahill says he literally fell on the knife, he took it up in the panic of the situation he found himself in and pushed out and never intended to stab Owen Kerry and that was a horrible, unintended consequence.
“He says he had no intention to harm him at all, let alone kill or cause him really serious harm.”
“You can’t convict Brian Cahill unless the prosecution have made you sure he is guilty of murder.
“The only direct evidence as to how the wound was caused comes from Brian Cahill. Nobody else saw this action occur at all.”
Mr Makepeace: “Emotion can’t help you, it can only make things harder.
“If emotion impacts on your verdict in any way it will be an unjust verdict.”
On Christmas Eve last year a good and decent young man lost his life needlessly and that’s an absolute tragedy and you would not be human if you didn’t feel that and that it didn’t impact on you from the outset of this case.
But to do justice you have to put aside that emotion and scrutinise the evidence in this case.
Examine it carefully and ask yourself if it compels you to the verdict Brian Cahill is guilty of murder.
Mr Robertson has finished his closing speech.
Peter Makepeace QC, for Cahill, is now making his speech to jurors.
Mr Robertson concludes:
“We submit to you last Christmas Eve Owen Kerry was murdered by Brian Cahill, as is clear as can be.
“But it’s also clear, we submit, he was assisted and encouraged by the violent actions of Lyndsey Harper, who continued to assist when they got home and she attempted to pervert the course of justice by destroying the evidence.
“We invite you accordingly to return verdicts of guilty on count one of murder against both defendants and also guilty of count four (doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice) against Miss Harper.”
Prosecutor Andrew Robertson QC goes on:
“In our submission to you, this was a joint attack and they were both therefore responsible for Owen’s murder.
“Yes it was Cahill’s hand who held the knife and thrust it into that depth but they were both responsible for it.
“It amounts to this. As part of a joint enterprise with the man who did stab him, she too is responsible for Owen Kerry’s murder.”
“We submit she is clever and devious, much cleverer than her boyfriend.”
“He was the stabber but it’s the Crown’s case that Lyndsey Harper was also responsible for Owen Kerry’s death and is also guilty of murder but as a secondary party who assisted and encouraged him in what he did.
“We submit the evidence demonstrates she intentionally encouraged and or assisted Brian Cahill to assault Owen and at the time she had an intention, like him, that Owen should suffer really serious harm.”
“What you have seen in this court is a man who is clearly guilty of a cowardly murder, stabbing deliberately an unarmed man to death on Christmas Eve and being too much of a coward to face up to the terrible thing he has done.”
“Obviously the truth is, quickly after deliberately stabbing Owen, he refolded the knife and put it back in his sock or pocket.
“He says he only realised it was a knife when he put it in his back pocket when he went out but even then he didn’t realise it was an open knife with an exposed blade.
“Members of the jury, were this not so gravely serious, we would submit what he had said to you would be laughable.”
“Then he leaves the club and for some reason he took the unknown object with him in his hand.
“He told you this. Even though it was in his right hand throughout and even though he has eyes in his head, he still didn’t know he was holding a knife.”
Mr Robertson continues:
“He just so happened, as luck would have it, to fall on to an open knife that just happened to be lying there where he fell on the floor of Cramlington Working Men’s Club that Christmas Eve.
“And then what happens? Not knowing what it was, for some unknown reason he picked up this object he had fallen on, even though he had no reason to do so and no explanation as to why he should pick it up.
“He then says he pushed out as he was getting up and, despite the way he was holding the knife, it still managed to cause that horrific, deep, upward fatal wound.”
“That wound, he says now, was an accident.
“Members of the jury, there’s a limit to what we can say. It comes to this.
“The evidence at that point descended into a desperate farce in his attempts to save his skin.”
Mr Robertson says Cahill had threatened Owen and his friends before stabbing him, “a threat he carried out in a murderous manner to fatal effect”.
Mr Robertson: “After his arrest, as you might expect, he lied his head off.”
View the full article at The Chronicle