Trial of men accused of Wigan dad's kidnap and murder is adjourned for 19 days

Closing speeches in the murder trial of Wigan dad Christopher Hughes have now concluded.
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Following eight weeks of evidence, the jury at Liverpool Crown Court has now been sent away until January 9 when the judge will sum up the evidence against the nine defendants.

Eight of them are on trial denying kidnapping and murdering the 37-year-old Marsh Green father of one on February 18 this year and conspiracy to cause him grievous bodily harm.

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It is alleged that they hunted down Mr Hughes whom they wrongly suspected of the knifepoint rape of a teenage girl.

Christopher Hughes and his mum SusanChristopher Hughes and his mum Susan
Christopher Hughes and his mum Susan

He was snatched off the street in broad daylight in Wigan, bundled into the boot of a blue Audi and driven to White Moss Road South, Skelmersdale, where he was viciously knifed to death, suffering more than 90 stab wounds.

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Curtis Balbas, 30, of Matheson Drive, Worsley Hall, has pleaded guilty to the kidnap and murder.

Still on trial are - Erland Spahiu, 34, of White Moss Road South, Skelmersdale; Dean O’Neill Davey, 30, of Conrad Close, formerly of Bulteel Street, Pemberton; Martin Smith, 34, of Greenwood Avenue: Andrius Uzkuraitis, 27, of Holly Road, Worsley Hall; Alan Jaf, 52, of Ridyard Street, Worsley Hall; Razgar Mohammed, 40, of Plane Avenue, Worsley Hall, Khalil Awla, 48, of Greenwood Avenue and Spahiu’s cousin Erion Voja, 21, of Peall Road, Croydon, London.

Liverpool Crown CourtLiverpool Crown Court
Liverpool Crown Court
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Alongside them is Michael Gibbons, 47, of Bulteel Street, who denies perverting the course of justice in the aftermath of the murder involving providing false information to the police and helping O’Neill Davey to dispose of the blue Audi car allegedly used to kidnap Mr Hughes.

In his closing speech for Smith, Andrew Ford KC said that CCTV footage showed the defendant suddenly getting out of the Audi in Enfield Street, Pemberton, after the victim had been forced into the boot by Balbas, and walking off, rather than being dropped off.

He suggested that was not the behaviour of a willing kidnapper and he had then rung Mohammed who described him as “scared, speaking very quickly and told him what had happened.”

He told him Curtis, who the court has heard was a debt enforcer, had “put someone inside the car.”

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The jury has heard that 6ft 1ns tall Mr Hughes, a former boxer, was heard by those in the vehicle shouting from the boot, “What have I done wrong?”

Mr Ford said that Smith, who chose not to give evidence and is also known was "Smithy”, was fanatical about cars, ran the Wigan Car Scene website and drove a “flashy’ BMW.

He told the jury that suspicions were not enough to find Smith guilty of the offences and the fact he had been with the others, who were searching for Mr Hughes, the day before the murder “was not enough.”

Balbas had always admitted his part in Mr Hughes’s kidnapping, but initially denied murder. However, ,part-way through the trial he changed his plea to guilty and will be sentenced after the jury has returned its verdicts on the other defendants in the new year.