Daniel Laskos stabbing: Defence speeches conclude as jury retires

Jamie John Cooney pleaded guilty to driving while being over the drink-drive limit.

The trial of the six young people charged with the murder of Daniel Laskos is nearing its conclusion; jurors at the Old Bailey have now retired to reach their verdicts - Credit: Archant

Jurors at the Old Bailey have retired to consider whether the group on trial accused of murdering Daniel Laskos are guilty or not.

Six young people are currently on trial on murder charges over the fatal stabbing of the 16-year-old, who was attacked outside Church Road News and Wine convenience store in Harold Wood on May 7 last year.

Daniel Laskos

The trial of the six young people charged with the murder of Daniel Laskos is nearing its conclusion; jurors at the Old Bailey have now retired to reach their verdicts - Credit: Met Police

Joshua Kerr, 19, of Armstrong Avenue in Woodford Green; Callum Hands, 20, of Vincent Road in Dagenham; Rakeem Green-Matthews, 19, of Gulderose Road in Harold Wood; Loushawn Barnes, 19, of Little Aston Road in Harold Wood; Renee Saint Ange, 18, of Woodstock Avenue in Harold Wood; and a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, all deny murdering the teenager.

The prosecution alleges all six were “united in their determination” to attack the teenager.

Closing speeches for three of the defendants - including Kerr, who stands accused of administering the fatal stab wound to Daniel's neck - were heard on Friday (March 25).

Those for Saint Ange, Hands and the 16-year-old were delivered on March 28.

With respect to Saint Ange, CCTV footage played to jurors shows he was at the back of the melee.

Prosecutor Mr Emlyn Jones QC has argued that his place at the back was "just a matter of chance".

In her closing speech, barrister Jane Bickerstaff countered this by describing the placement as "a matter of his [Saint Ange's] choice”.

She asked jurors to "think why it was that he made that choice”, claiming it was because the 18-year-old did not “wish to be any part of it”.

Ms Bickerstaff insisted the prosecution had not done enough to make jurors sure of Saint Ange's involvement.

Most Read

The prosecution says Hands demonstrated an intention to cause serious harm by having a knife and by deciding to cross the road to join in with the attack.

Rebuffing this, his barrister Nigel Robert Lambert argued while Hands "stupidly, stupidly" produces a knife, a lack of intention can be seen from how he responds to the 16-year-old boy being stabbed.

"He waits and he stops and when someone he knows - and knows well - is stabbed by someone who is holding a weapon, why isn’t Callum Hands going in with the knife to stop him?," he said. "That’s what the prosecution, if they are right, would expect - but that doesn’t happen at all, and the reason it didn’t happen is the mindset."

The prosecution also relies on two allegations about Hands' reported actions in the aftermath.

Firstly, it's claimed that he told his mother: "I have to get out of here."

Secondly, a fire was reported to have started in her garden to burn some of the clothes worn during the attack.

Crispin David Aylett, counsel for the 16-year-old, urged jurors to look favourably upon his decision to admit manslaughter.

"He had the courage to do what none of the other boys did, to admit that his side were the aggressors," said Mr Aylett.

Mr Emlyn Jones had previously rejected the idea that this should be considered positively.

"Manslaughter is a lesser alternative to murder and the prosecution do not accept that, which is why he is on trial for murder."

However, Mr Aylett argued his client was “the only one in the group not wearing a balaclava", indicating a lack of desire to be disguised.

Before sending the jury out today (March 29), HHJ Munro QC explained three verdicts are available for five of the defendants: “Guilty of murder, not guilty of murder or manslaughter, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter."

She made clear only the first two verdicts are available in the case of the 16-year-old boy, whose guilty plea to manslaughter has already been rejected.