A prosecutor has made his last case to a jury that five men are all guilty of murdering a man in Northampton during a botched robbery for drugs and money.
The trial of five young men accused of stabbing 23-year-old Reece Ottaway to death in a flat in St James in February is drawing to a close.
In his closing speech at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (October 22), prosecutor Mr David Herbert QC tried to convince the jury that each defendant was guilty of murder for their part in the robbery.
For any of the defendants to be found guilty of murder, the jury has to rule they took part in the enterprise to attack Reece with the intent to kill him or cause serious harm.
Evidence has shown that a machete, a knife, a baseball bat and a BB gun were used in the break-in on February 1 at Cordwainer House - but it's not clear which defendant carried which weapon.
A key witness in the trial who saw the attack on Reece was his girlfriend, who shared the room with the 23-year-old and told the court she woke up to find "five men" in the flat already.
She was then forced to stay on the bed by a man wielding a baseball bat while Reece was stabbed.
Mr Herbert told the jury: "Reece was quickly overwhelmed and surrounded.
"There was lots of shouting and she couldn't recall who said what because she was understandably terrified.
"But she could recall the machete. You could hardly miss it."
The prosecution's case is that although it is unclear who stabbed Reece, all five are guilty of murder.
The five men charged with Mr Ottaway's murder are:
- Cameron Higgs, 20, of Chestnut Close, Milton Malsor, who claims he took no part in the attack. He also claims he took a knife to the flat but did not produce it.
- Jordan Crowley (also known as Jordan Kimpton), 21, of Sam Harrison Way, Duston, who claims his involvement was to hold a BB gun to Reece's head and took no part in the attack.
- Alfie Drage, 20, of Clover Street, Upton, who claims he took no part in the attack. He reportedly told a friend in Birmingham just days later that he took a baseball bat to the flat.
- Adison Smith, 20, of no fixed address, who was injured in the incident in the flat and claims he took no part in the attack.
- Ethan Stirling, aged 21, of Baukewell Court, Lumbertubs, who claims he never entered the flat and waited on a staircase with a rucksack.
Reece's girlfriend told the jury one of the attackers held what looked like a gun to Reece's head while he was on the floor and did not have a knife.
Mr Herbert said: "Whoever held the BB gun did not have a knife but is just as much a part of this enterprise.
"Whoever put that BB gun in Reece's face is guilty of murder."
Reece's partner also said a man prevented her from helping her boyfriend during the attack by keeping her on a bed using a baseball bat.
Mr Herbert said: "So this man was preventing her from helping Reece Ottaway while Reece was stabbed again and again with more than one knife.
"Whoever it was keeping her on the bed with the baseball bat is guilty of murder."
Cameron Higgs, who was the only defendant to give evidence in the witness stand, claims he took a knife but did not produce it, and that all the weapons were just to "scare" Reece.
Mr Herbert said: "Does that seem believable? To take a knife to scare Reece, only to not take it? And why throw it away if it was not used?
"You may believe he says he didn't take it out because to do so is the same as admitting murder."
Ethan Stirling claims he did not enter the flat and waited on a nearby staircase. He has also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to robbery.
Mr Herbert said: "There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Stirling had a knife. But the prosecution says he had a rucksack, and you [the jury] have to decide if he had the weapons in the rucksack al that time.
"I suggest he was part of the five surrounding Reece in that small flat."
The five young men's defence barristers will make their closing statements today (October 22).