NEWPORT SHOOTING TRIAL: 'No murder pact over £25 drug debt'

First published in News

DEFENCE barristers finished their closing speeches yesterday in the trial of an alleged shooting on Newport’s Chepstow Road last year.

On Wednesday, Harry Baker urged jurors to find his client Ryan Battersby, 25, of no fixed abode, not guilty of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm with intent against John Phillips, Shanice Francis and Michael Wall on September 3.

His co-defendants Lewis Bridge, 23, of Nash Drive; Brogan Hooper, 21, of Feering Street and Gary Rabjohns, 25, of no fixed address, face the same charges with Rabjohns also accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice. All four deny the charges.

Earlier in the trial Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, told Newport Crown Court the three alleged victims were travelling in a small red Ford Ka when they were followed by a dark coloured 4x4 Grand Jeep Cherokee before they were deliberately rammed and shot at, causing the Ka to crash into the Cross Hands Hotel.

Mr Baker said it was strange to assert a murder pact would be forged “over a £25 drug debt”. He added there was no direct evidence Battersby was in the car with Bridge and Hooper, who he said had admitted being present. “In his interview he said he was at home or in the area. It has been proved that his phone moves around in the Newport area,” Mr Baker said, adding Battersby was the only defendant to give full answers in police interviews which corresponded to what he said in the witness box. Sarah Waters, defending Bridge, also urged jury members to find her client not guilty of all charges, adding he was related to Mr Phillips. She said: “Why would (Bridge) want to kill his own cousin? If this was such a sophisticated plan as the prosecution claims, do you think they would have had more than two rounds (of gunfire)? Wouldn’t they have wanted to finish the job off ladies and gentlemen?” She added Bridge had not named any other people because he feared for his mother’s safety, but insisted everything he had told the police was “correct”. Andrew Morse, defending Hooper, said of his client: “He got into the Jeep, which he shouldn’t have, and with hindsight he regrets that.” He told the jurors that Hooper should be acquitted of all charges because he was in the Jeep for only a matter of minutes and was not aware of any pre-planned shooting.

Proceeding.

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