Northamptonshire teen murder trial: 'Were they Jack-the-lads, or were they something else'?

Dylan Holliday, 16, was stabbed to death last summer

Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 9:00 am

Summing up has begun by the judge in the murder trial of two teenagers accused of stabbing to death a 16-year-old Dylan Holliday in a Wellingborough underpass. The defendants are also accused of the attempted murder of Dylan’s childhood friend.

Barristers for the two defendants, who cannot be named because of their age, set out their defence for the two 17-year-old boys who had denied the charges after the incident on August 5 last year.

Speaking to jurors at Coventry Crown Court, Benjamin Aina QC, representing defendant one, said that his client had been only defending himself and his companion from an attack by Dylan and his friend when they had met in the underpass off Shelley Road.

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A family photo of Dylan Holliday with the floral tributes left near the A509 underpass last year

He denied the prosecution’s version of events that Dylan and his friend were just “chilling and relaxing” in the tunnel and that the two victims who had been smoking cannabis were just “Jack-the-lad” type characters.

Mr Aina said: “We have only their (two of the boys that had been in the underpass with Dylan) evidence that it was an unprovoked attack on two ‘innocent’ boys in the underpass.

"Are they two smiling Jack-the-lads or young boys just playing around or.. were they something else?

"Our case is that they have deliberately lied to the police and to you about what happened. One they were drug dealers, two they were drug dealing under the underpass, three they were the aggressors who started the violence and the deliberate lies were to convince you.”

Dylan Holliday was stabbed to death on August 5 2021

Messages found on Dylan's phone showed a number of conversations regarding drug dealing activities and that one of Dylan’s clients was not happy with the quality of the cannabis he had been sold.

Mr Aina had said that one message sent from Dylan's phone had linked him to Albanian gangs operating in the Wellingborough area.

The court heard that on the day Dylan, 16, and his companion, a friend since they were babies, had been smoking cannabis from about 11am at different locations around the Queensway estate.

Travelling around on push bikes, the mates had visited the Premier Stores several times for drinks and Rizlas. Footage from the shop’s CCTV played to the court showed Dylan riding off on his bike with his arm in a cast – he had broken his elbow in a car crash on July 13.

The underpass where Dylan was stabbed

The fatal encounter happened in the A509 underpass near Shelley Road where Dylan and his friend had been smoking cannabis and listening to music.

Defending Mr Aina said that his client - defendant one - had thought that Dylan was reaching to his waistband for a weapon and when the teenager came towards them swinging his arm in a plaster cast, thought he was being attacked.

He said: “Defendant one responded defensively to keep Dylan Holliday away.”

Mr Aina admitted that his client was “no angel” and had carried a knife since he was 12 to defend himself but that “he never used it once”.

Floral tributes to Dylan were placed at the spot where he was killed

He said: “In relation to other convictions he always pleaded guilty.”

The court were told that the 17-year-old defendant one had taken out a sheathed knife from his trousers but it was only in self defence. At some point the sheath was removed from the blade and Dylan received 13 knife wounds – five stab wounds that were “at least moderate force” and eight incised wounds that would have been “mild to moderate force”.

Mr Aina quoted the pathologist saying that “all 13 injuries are consistent with keeping an aggressor at bay”.

Dylan died after he was stabbed in the heart.

Although the defendants were said to have known each other for a long time, Kate Bex QC said that her client, defendant two, hadn’t seen defendant one as he had been moved to Leicester.

Defending, Ms Bex said that her client had no knowledge that his companion was carrying a knife, that it wasn’t in shared possession and that he would have had no intention using it.

She said: “The case starts and ends with the knife. The prosecution failed to prove any one of the four stages – presence alone is not enough. Suspicion is not enough – suspecting and not knowing that defendant one had a knife. Sharing possession of it (the knife) because there’s a joint plan. And intention to kill or cause serious injury.

"The only verdict is not guilty.”

Reminding the jury of their duty, Ms Bex said her client “had already paid a heavy price” after spending nearly a year in prison and that he was desperate to get home to his family.

She said: “He has said he didn’t do it and I am not guilty. There are no winners, only losers. Convicting defendant two will not bring anyone back.”

Beginning his summing up, judge The Honorable Mr Justice Dove reminded the jury of the cases for the prosecution and the defence from the trial that began hearing evidence on June 7.

Jurors heard that the two defendants had walked to the Queensway estate dressed in coats and gloves and with balaclavas.

When they got to the park near the Glamis Hall, the two stopped to talk with three people who were hiding, smoking crack cocaine in a bush. The two defendants stopped to talk and asked to borrow their bikes for “ten minutes” after asking where their “shotters” (drug dealers) were. They were then pointed towards the Shelley Road area.

The boys “ballyed-up” – wearing balaclavas – and had ridden up to where Dylan and another two boys were. The third boy had run off when the boys on bikes had appeared.

After the altercation, Dylan ran off towards Park Farm Industrial Estate. His companion ran home as he had also been stabbed once.

The two defendants had cycled off – one using Dylan’s bike.

The trial continues.