A gang of men accused of murdering Preston dad-of-one Jon-Jo Highton started gathering weapons at a flat in Preston in the months before he was killed, saying he was going to “get what was coming to him”, a court has been told.
In the third week of the trial at Preston Crown Court, two women have spoken about rivalries between murder accused Owen Whitesmith and Jon-Jo Highton - who were previously friends from school.
They were like, ‘Jon-Jo will get what’s coming to him’ then all of a sudden my neighbour texted me one Sunday morning, saying ‘Jon-Jo’s dead.
But one of the women - who was close to Jon-Jo - said he had planned to make amends with Whitesmith just weeks before he died.
The two women met when they moved into neighbouring flats in May last year. The older woman was a regular customer of drug dealer Whitesmith and when the younger woman moved into the flat downstairs it became apparent Whitesmith knew her and her links with Jon-Jo.
In the weeks and months that followed Whitesmith and his friends would spend increasing time at the older woman’s flat, bullying her and taking liberties, the court heard. Jon-Jo would sometimes visit the younger woman in her flat downstairs, often taking a friend with him for safety as he knew Whitesmith and his pals were using the upstairs flat. The older woman said: “When she had Jon-Jo round she’d have all her blinds shut, her buzzer unplugged, her flat was in silence. Then they got onto that.
“They said ‘we’re going to go through her door’. Owen and Ste Walton said that. I said ‘you’re not going through anybody’s door. We have to live here and we’ll be evicted.’
“In the end, they said ‘fine then, we’ll wait till we see him come out and deal with him then.”
The woman described weapons, including a sword, knives, axes and a wrench the men brought to her flat.
“They were like, ‘Jon-Jo will get what’s coming to him’ then all of a sudden my neighbour texted me one Sunday morning, saying ‘Jon-Jo’s dead.”
Jon-Jo Highton died after being attacked by a group of men armed with weapons including a sword, knives and a golf club as he walked home from a pub in St Stephen’s Road, Preston.
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.