One of the five men accused of murder at a Northampton flat used his time in the witness box yesterday to turn down questions from barristers by saying he "didn't want to grass".
Cameron Higgs, of Chestnut Close, Milton Malsor, is the first of his co-defendants to give evidence about the alleged group killing of Reece Ottaway at Cordwainer House in February this year.
Higgs and his four co-defendants are accused of breaking down the door to Reece's flat and stabbing him to death in a botched robbery for drugs and money.
Weapons linked to the group of five in the robbery include a machete, a knife, a baseball bat and a BB gun.
Reece - who sold drugs and was believed to be keeping his stash at the flat in St James - was stabbed a total of seven times in the resulting attack. One of the defendants, Adison Smith, was also reportedly stabbed.
But when called on to defend his case at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (October 15), Higgs avoided giving detailed answers about what happened in the St James flat that night by claiming he would be labelled "a snitch".
"I don't want to be a grass," Higgs told the jury. "I'm afraid for my safety in prison."
During his evidence, six different barristers stood to question Higgs about how Reece died.
They included questions about who was armed with what, who entered the flat first, who stabbed Reece and who was the 'leader' of the group when they went to rob the flat that night.
Higgs, under oath, told the jury: "I'm not saying.
"I had a knife. I'm not saying who else was armed with what.
"Reece had a knife in the living room. He was swinging it about. Next thing I knew, he had been stabbed.
"I'm not going to say who stabbed him."
One barrister, Mr Richard Jory, defending Ethan Stirling, asked: "You're under oath, Mr Higgs. Have you told the jury the whole truth?"
"I'm not lying," replied Higgs. "I'm just not saying it. There's a difference."
Mr Jory said: "You won't say who called you to say 'you're going to rob Reece'. And you won't say what happened in the living room when Reece Ottaway was murdered. And you won't say these things because you're afraid of what would happen to your safety in prison?
"Has it crossed your mind that the family of Reece Ottaway might want to know the truth?"
"Of course it has," said Higgs. "But I'm not saying."
Higgs, however, did answer a question from Mr Michael McAliden, defence barrister for Alfie Drage.
"Tell the jury this," said Mr McAliden. "Did someone in your group lose it in the flat that night? Did they go berserk?"
"Yes," said Higgs.
"You all attacked him, didn't you?" asked prosecutor Mr David Herbert QC. "You prowled around him, knocking him to the floor and stabbing him, didn't you?"
"No," said Higgs.
"Were you one of the people stabbing him? Is that why you're not telling us?"
"No," said Higgs.
The court heard how the next morning after Reece's death, Higgs burnt the clothes he wore to the robbery. He learned about Reece's death later that day.
The five men charged with Mr Ottaway's murder are:
- Cameron Higgs, 20, of Chestnut Close, Milton Malsor
- Jordan Crowley (also known as Jordan Kimpton), 21, of Sam Harrison Way, Duston
- Alfie Drage, 20, of Clover Street, Upton
- Adison Smith, 20, of no fixed address
- Ethan Stirling, aged 21, of Baukewell Court, Lumbertubs
All of the defendants except Ethan Stirling have already pleaded guilty to conspiring to rob Reece that night. They all deny murder.
The trial continues.