Wigan murder trial defendant admits being part of burial party
One of nine men accused of the brutal kidnapping and murder of a suspected Wigan knifepoint rapist has told how he was asked to help bury the body.
It is alleged the defendants were involved in various ways in snatching Wigan dad Christopher Hughes from the street, bundling him into the boot of an Audi and driving him to a remote spot where he has hacked to death.
They believed he had raped a teenage girl and the nine defendants allegedly spent the previous 24 hours searching for him.
The third defendant to give evidence so far at their Liverpool Crown Court trial, Dean O’Neill Davey, has told the jury that while he had been involved in looking for Mr Hughes he was not involved in kidnapping or killing him.
He claimed that on February 18 this year – after the alleged murder - one of his co-accused, Curtis Balbas, said he “really needed my help” and to go to the Wigan home of Balbas’s sister Zina.
“He sounded panicking a bit,” said O’Neill Davey.
He said he went to the house in Sherwood Drive, Worsley Hall, where four of the other defendants, Alan Jaf, Khalil Awla, Andrius Uzkuraitis and Erland Spahiu were said to be already gathered.
“I remember something on the lines of Curtis had killed someone and needed my help. A lot didn’t sink in at the time.”
Asked by his barrister Richard Pratt, KC, how he felt he replied: “I was confused. I didn’t really know what to do or say.
“I was asked to go the garage and collect a spade which I did.”
The jury has heard that he worked as a mechanic at the M6 garage in Wigan, owned by Jaf and Awla.
O’Neill Davey said he drove back to the house and put the spade under a VW car. “I don’t know why.”
“When I got back there was stuff laid out, gloves, stuff like that. Wellington boots, a hat, black clothing. It was in the front room on the coffee table.”
The court has heard that a number of women relatives had gone to Asda and bought such items including bottles of bleach that evening.
He said “lots of things were said. Words were going in one ear and out.
“I was asked the bury the victim.”
Asked how he felt he replied, “Not very good. I didn’t know what to do.”
All the defendants, who also include another man accused of perverting the course of justice, are connected to one another by family ties, through work or socially, said John Elvidge, KC, prosecuting.
O’Neill Davey said he owed Jaf’s family “a lot. He gave me a job, a nice car, a nice house. I felt under pressure to do something back for them.”
The defendant said he now felt “disgusted with myself really. I have not just ruined my own life but my family’s life and helped cover up something that wasn’t particularly nice.”
He said he got changed into the clothing and took a pair of the rubber gloves with him. He said that Uzkuraitis arrived outside. and he claimed that Spahiu knew where to go and he drove him and Spahiu’s cousin, Erion Voja, in his car to Whitemoss Road, Skelmersdale.
“I changed into Wellington boots. I was nervous. We got out of the car and got the spade and bag with bleach and bin bags and we walked over the motorway bridge.”
He said that a police van then came past and he panicked. “I picked up what I could and Voja and Spahiu went off in one direction and I just went back and walked across the bridge as quick as I could. I threw everything off the bridge and went back to the car.”
Further quizzed he said he had just been wearing one glove to carry the spade and agreed that was the one found with his DNA after he had abandoned it over the bridge.
O’Neil Davey said that although he panicked at seeing the police car, “at the same time I felt a bit relieved as I had not had to see anything and do anything. It is not something I wanted to see.”
Cross-examined, he admitted he had lied to police in interview but said he had had no knowledge of the plan to kidnap and kill the victim.
The jury has heard that the body of the 37-year-old drug addict victim, who had suffered more than 90 stab wounds, most while he was still alive and some with a machete, was found four days after the attack having bled to death.
A dog walker made the shocking discovery about 11 am on February 22 while on White Moss Road South, Skelmersdale, near the M58, after her dog sniffed the air and she looked over a short embankment.
Denying murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm are - O’Neill Davey, 30, of Conrad Close, formerly of Bulteel Street, Pemberton; Martin Smith, 34, of Greenwood Avenue: Uzkuraitis, 27, of Holly Road, Worsley Hall; Mohammed Razgar, 40, of Plane Avenue, Worsley Hall; Jaf, 52, of Ridyard Street, Worsley Hall; Awla, 48, of Greenwood Avenue, Worsley Hall: Spahiu, 34, of Uppingham, Skelmersdale, and Voja, 21, of Peall Road, Croydon, London.
Balbas, 30, of Matheson Drive, Worsley Hall, denies murder and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm but admits kidnapping.
Michael Gibbons, 47, of Bulteel Street, 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.
It is alleged that Spahiu and Balbas bundled Mr Hughes into the boot of the Audi, after punching him to the ground, and he was taken to Skelmersdale and fatally attacked.