MURDER TRIAL: Defendants give account of what happened

Jonjo Highton and Taylor

Jonjo Highton and Taylor

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The Jon-Jo Highton murder trial has been hearing from police about information gathered from the defendants when they were arrested on suspicion of murder.

One of the men, Minhaj Musa, gave a full account of what had happened on the night Jon-Jo was killed - but denied he was involved in the murder.

Jon-Jo, 18, was killed in a savage street attack in St Stephen’s Road, Preston as he walked away from his local pub.

He was set upon by a group of at least eight men who the prosecution say jumped out of two cars which had travelled together to the scene.

Following his arrest, Musa initially told officers he was not in St Stephen’s Road and had spent the evening watching TV with his family.

But in a later interview he admitted he had lied as he was scared.

Musa told officers he had received a phone call from his friend Zaahid Patel, offering him £20 to drive him from Home Bargains in Deepdale to Ashton Park.

He collected his friend who then asked him to pick up another man he knew, Mohammed Sabbah Dal, from the end of his shift in Morrison’s, Blackpool Road.

In a prepared statement drawn up with his solicitor, he said: “Sabbah got in the back behind me. He appeared to be carrying a piece of wood about two thirds of a metre long. At no point did it occur to me that it was intended to be used as a weapon.

“I didn’t see Zaahid or Sabbah with any sort of knife or anything with a blade and I didn’t know or have any reason to believe they would be involved in the murder of Jon-Jo Highton.”

Musa went on to tell officers he had driven around the Deepdale area in his Vauxhall Meriva, “just chilling” and being directed by his two passengers.

He said they saw a car in St Paul’s Road, and Patel, shouted “Yo! Yo!” at the occupants.

Musa told officers: “As soon as I turned right there was a male walking on the passenger side of the pavement. He was holding a bottle.

“Zaahid shouted ‘that’s him’ and Sabbah jumped out ofthe car.

“I heard the male shout ‘let’s just talk’.”

Directed by Patel, Musa said he drove towards Sabbah Dal and he man - who he knew to be Jon-Jo Highton - were fighting.

He said: “I looked in my wing mirror and saw a lot of people running out of the car behind me.

“I saw a tall, white male carrying a red axe. He was wearing black, as were the other men. I couldn’t see their faces but I could tell they were white because of their accents. I took my dseatbelt off and as I was pulling the door shut I could hear screaming. I was really scared and panicking. I wanted to drive off but I couldn’t because the other car had blocked me in.

“Zaahid was saying ‘drive, drive, drive, f***ing drive, f***king drive, right now!’

“I heard someone trying to open the rear driver’s side door. It was Sabbah but the door was locked. Zaahid shouted at me to stop driving.”

Following the attack Musa said he drove to Fulwood Hall Lane, where one of his passengers threw something into the trees.

He added: “At no time did I intent people to attack Jon-Jo intending to kill him nor did I realise that one of the attackers might kill him.

“Before the attack took place I did not know of any plans to kill Jon-Jo and I didn’t give Zaahid or Sabbah a lift to help them carry out the attack.”

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.