I was there night Jon-Jo was killed – but I only punched him, says murder accused

Jonjo Highton and Taylor
Jonjo Highton and Taylor
  • Murder accused takes stand in own defence
  • Self-confessed drug dealer says he would have run away if he knew Jon-Jo was to be killed
  • Told court he was out looking for another man
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ONE of the men accused of killing Preston teen Jon-Jo Highton has admitted being there on the fatal night – but says he did no worse than punch him.

Taking the stand in his own defence, Owen Whitesmith, 19, told the court he would have “run away” if he had known Jon-Jo had been killed.

Dad-of-one Jon-Jo died of multiple stab and slash wounds when he was attacked by a gang of people in Deepdale.

Self-confessed drug dealer Whitesmith admits he was in St Stephen’s Road the night Jon-Jo died.

He told Preston Cerown Court that he was looking for another man – Daniel Quinn – who he believed had wronged his mother when he saw Jon-Jo with a bottle in his hand, fighting with another man he knew and stepped in.

He said: “Jon-Jo was getting the better of him so I went over and punched him. He fell and I ran straight back to my car.

“There were people to my left, people to my right but the only attack I saw was when the one male was having a one-to-one with him.”

Whitesmith told the court he was angry about an incident the previous night when three men had tried to force their way into his home – headbutting his mum’s friend in the process.

He believed he knew who was responsible and set out to find Quinn and warn him off.

The court has heard about a series of text messages between Whitesmith and his friend Arran Graham over the course of August 23 making plans to go out looking for “Quinny”.

But Whitesmith said after he punched Jon-Jo he jumped back in his Vauxhall Vectra and could not see whether others were attacking him or if any weapons were used.

When asked by his defence lawyer John McDermott QC what he would have done had he known Jon-Jo was seriously injured or dying, Whitesmith said: “I wouldn’t have gone home.

“I think I would have run away from the police, to where they couldn’t find me, really.”

He travelled to St Stephen’s Road in his Vauxhall Vectra and Whitesmith said he had seen his Samurai sword – which he said he had “for show” in the rear footwell of the car.

Whitesmith said he was aware of another vehicle at the scene and as they drove away in his Vauxhall Vectra he took a call from Zaahid Patel – his own cannabis supplier.

He said: “I just remember Zaahid being all loud on the phone.

“I could hear it in the background, they were all loud. They were all buzzing. I put the call down on him. There would have been a conversation but I don’t remember the exact words.”

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.