Jonjo murder suspect denies attack

KILLED: Jon-Jo Highton was killed in St Stephen's Road, Preston, on August 23, 2014
KILLED: Jon-Jo Highton was killed in St Stephen's Road, Preston, on August 23, 2014
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A second man accused of murdering Preston dad Jonjo Highton has denied seeing or being part of the attack which killed him.

On the night of the 18-year-old’s death, Arron Graham, 23, of Ripon Street, Preston, spent 40 minutes in a Vauxhall Vectra with four other men, including Owen Whitesmith, looking for three men responsible for assaulting a friend of Whitesmith’s mum.

If I’d have seen something that horrific, I’d probably have run straight to the police.

Arron Graham

Graham told Preston Crown Court he “only went for a confrontation”, and did not expect it to escalate. He denies seeing any weapons.

Prosecutor Neil Flewitt QC said: “There must have been conversation in the 40 minutes about what was going to happen. You would have been fully aware of what was going to happen and been on board.”

Graham denied this.

The court heard the Vectra came into the path of a Vauxhall Meriva in St George’s Road, containing other defendants including Zaahid Patel. Graham said Whitesmith rang Patel, who suggested Jonny Kershaw - one of those believed responsible for the assault - was nearby.

The Vectra followed the Meriva into St Stephen’s Road and Graham said the occupants of both vehicles, apart from the drivers and himself ran out towards a footpath.

Graham said he was delayed leaving by his seat belt holder jamming, and then stood at the front of the car, watching a “commotion”. He denied seeing a weapon, having two hunting knives in his possession and attacking Jonjo with them.

He said: “My view was blocked by parked cars. I saw some scuffling and I thought Owen was fighting with Jonny Kershaw. If I’d have seen something that horrific, I’d probably have run straight to the police.”

Both cars left St Stephen’s Road less than a minute after arriving, the Vectra later being dumped in a side street off Watling Street Road.

The occupants entered a flat in Watling Street Road, and Graham got a taxi to his mum’s boyfriend’s house.

Graham said he only became aware of Jonjo’s death the following day in a phone conversation with friend Liam Tunstall.

Owen Whitesmith, 19, of Glebe Close Fulwood; Arron Graham, 23, Ripon Street, Preston; Stephen Walton, 24, of no fixed address; Craig Walton, 26, of Watling Street Road, Fulwood; Joshua Bore, 19, of Morris Road, Ribbleton; Zaahid Patel, 20, of Park Avenue, Preston; Mohammed Sabbah Dal, 20, of Alice Square, Preston; and Minhaj Musa, 21, of Deepdale Road, Preston all deny murder.

Liam Tunstall, 26, of Mark Close, Penwortham; John Wilding, 36, of Everton Street, Darwen and Stuart Eastham, 32, Gisburn Road, Ribbleton deny assisting an offender.

Proceeding.