Defendant accused of rounding up attackers that killed Northampton teenager says he was 'peer-pressured' into joining group
A young man claims he was only ever at the knife fight that killed a Northampton teenager because he was bullied by his co-defendants.
James Dodd, 19, from Camp Hill, says he was "peer-pressured" into joining the group now accused of murdering Liam Hunt and never wanted to go with them.
His police interview was read out to Northampton Crown Court yesterday (March 16), in which he told officers his version of the attack - including who was armed, who was keen to find Liam and who dealt the killer neck wound.
The court heard how Dodd had a fist fight with Liam two days before the stabbing in February last year.
Later, on the day of the lethal attack, Dodd says he bumped into Liam again on St George's Street and was chased off by Liam's friends.
In Dodd's police interview, he said: "I ran into [his co-defendants] near the bus station and told them what happened. I never meant to bump into them.
"They kept saying, 'come with us, you'll be safe, where are they'. I was frightened by Liam and his mates, they were big boys. I never wanted to go back.
"I gave in and told them. They were all saying 'we're going to get these boys'. I didn't want to go with them but [one of the group] said 'hurry up or we'll beat you up'".
CCTV has shown how Dodd stayed some distance from the group as they headed towards St George's Street.
Dodd claims two of the group - Lee Warren and another 17-year-old defendant - pressed him to tell them where Liam was. Meanwhile, Kane Allaban-Hamilton asked the others "have you got any weapons", while Aaron Joseph picked up a brick while passing a derelict building.
Dodd says he stayed at the top of St George's Street where he couldn't even see the knife fight that took place minutes later. Then "suddenly everyone started running".
Later, Dodd claims he heard from a girl that witnessed the fight that Allaban-Hamilton had "dibbed" [stabbed] Liam in the neck.
Dodd's defence barrister has said his client is "not responsible for encouraging or otherwise inviting the group that attacked Liam".Other witnesses have claimed that Dodd threw the first punch in the fight with Liam two days before. Prosecutor Mr John Lloyd-Jones has told the court the day after his fistfight with Liam, Dodd texted one friend to say: "My boys will stab them when I find them".
The trial continues.