Jurors in the Billy Livesley murder trial have retired to consider their verdicts.
Peter ‘Ricky’ Connors, 32, and his brother David Connors, 26, are both accused of murdering the 21-year-old from Platt Bridge in December.
Billy died on December 29, a day after succumbing to injuries caused by a blow to the head. David Connors has admitted to striking Billy with the pry bar, but claims he did so in self-defence. The prosecution alleges that Peter Connors “encouraged or assisted” his brother in the attack, and was thus also charged with murder on a joint enterprise basis.
Both defendants have denied the charges.
After 11 day s of dramatic evidence, the 12-strong jury have now begun deliberating whether to find the brothers guilty or not guilty of murdering the 21-year-old dad-to-be.
A jury of four men and eight women have now heard evidence from numerous witnesses since the start of the trial, including Billy’s pregnant girlfriend Leah Galvin and both defendants.
Yesterday at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Alan Conrad QC instructed the jury to reach a unanimous verdict after he made his closing statements and summed up the wealth of evidence they had heard over the previous days.
The day began with the judge reminding the jury that they will have to decide not who killed Billy, but rather “what was in the mind of each defendant at the time.”
As the jury were reminded of the evidence put forward against both David Connors, of Layton Street Caravan Park in Preston and Peter Connors, of no fixed address, the latter repeatedly put his head in his hands throughout the hearing as the night of the incident was recounted.
Billy’s death followed a chance encounter with the brothers, who were driving past the car park and spotted John ‘Leggy’ Pownall’s car, said the judge.
Billy had gone to meet Mr Pownall that night to pay him £80, and was talking to Pownall at his car window in the dark car park, before they heard a loud screech of brakes, as the van carrying the Connors brothers pulled into the car park.
Peter Connors was the first to get out of the van and approach Billy and John Pownall in the car park, shouting and screaming “where’s my f****** money?”
Billy’s friend Dillon Bland, who was in the car on the night in question, told the police he thought he heard Billy say “what are you doing?” to Peter Connors, and that he seemed to make a run for the main road, but he lost sight of Billy as he ran around the back of the van.
He also told police that Peter Connors returned to the car park and told Leah Galvin not to tell anyone what happened otherwise “the same thing would happen to her”.
Peter Connors would later tell police that it was John Pownall he had spotted in the car park, and had demanded the van be turned around so he could confront him about a £12,000 drug debt he allegedly owed.
He had no debts owed by Billy Livesley and did not know he would be there that night, he claimed.
David Connors claims that within a matter of seconds, Billy began approaching his brother Peter, and feared his brother would be attacked.
He said he scrambled around the floor of the van and picked up the first item to hand, a pry bar that had been used in a recent burglary, arming himself with it and stepping out of the van.
His barrister Tim Clark QC had earlier told the jury that he was “a slight and timid man” who had no experience of violence.
He said his client acted “instinctively with what he thought was the appropriate level of force”, adding: ”My client’s action was to get a dangerous man away from him.”
”The reality is sadly that my client was safer stood on his feet with a bar in his hands than running away” Mr Clark said.
He described the incident as having a “one in million” outcome that could not have been foreseen.
Judge Conrad QC instructed the jury to reach a unanimous verdict. If they reach a verdict of not guilty of murder, they will be asked to reach a verdict on the charges of manslaughter instead.