Murder accused was told ‘you won’t get away with this’, jury hears

·4-min read

The pregnant girlfriend of a skip firm boss shot dead in a works yard sent a text message to the man now on trial for his murder saying “you will not get away with this”, a jury heard.

Will Henry, 31, and his best friend and business partner Brian McIntosh, 29, were discovered in a Range Rover after police were called to a car park at the Albion Works off Moor Street, Brierley Hill, Dudley, West Midlands, on September 30 2020.

Jonathan Houseman, 32, is on trial at Birmingham Crown Court accused of murdering the pair, allegedly over a £200,000 debt he owed the men.

Giving evidence on Friday, Mr Henry’s partner Denni Ullah was asked why she sent that text message to Mr Houseman within minutes of finding out her partner was dead.

She replied: “Because my partner never had any problems with anyone else.”

Ms Ullah said that hours passed and Mr Henry had still not come home, despite him sending her a message earlier in the day “to say he was going to be home early as he stayed up late, the night before”.

At 10.26pm on September 30, she sent a text to Houseman, telling jurors she did so because he was business partners with Mr Henry and Mr McIntosh, through a firm called WJB Skips.

Dudley car park shootings
Brian McIntosh, 29, was in the driver’s seat of his Range Rover, where he was found shot dead (Family/West Midlands Police/PA)

She also understood that company to be owned by Houseman, and she occasionally took calls from customers who wanted to arrange hire.

Ms Ullah, then four months pregnant, asked Houseman: “Have you heard from Will?”

Houseman replied: “Not since this morning, why?”, before asking her about skip collections. She did not reply.

The following morning, now deeply concerned at her partner’s absence, Ms Ullah phoned Mr Henry’s mother who was in hospital and told her he had been shot dead.

Minutes later, at 7.38am on October 1 last year, she sent a text to Houseman which said: “I swear on everything you will not get away with this, I promise you.”

Dudley car park shootings
Will Henry was found, shot twice, in the front passenger seat (Family/West Midlands Police/PA)

Michael Burrows QC, prosecuting, asked her: “Why send Jonathan Houseman that message?”

She replied: “Because my partner never had any problems with anyone else.”

Earlier she was asked if Mr Henry had “any problems with anyone at all” to which she replied: “Just Jon (Houseman).”

She added: “Only that he (Houseman) owed them money.

“I know it was just in regards to the waste company.”

She once heard Mr Henry on the phone to Houseman, telling him he was “taking the mickey with the payments”.

Earlier, the trial heard from Mr McIntosh’s fiancee Tanya Hassan, who said Houseman had been around to their home on a couple of occasions in the days leading up to the death.

She also claimed Houseman “owed Brian and Will money” but knew nothing else of their financial dealings.

As he left to go to work on September 30, Mr McIntosh had asked her “to get his money and his toothpick – his savings from upstairs”, she told jurors.

She recalled the cash sum was in the region of £4,000, and assumed he had it with him when he left.

The last communication she had with Mr McIntosh was sending him a text asking if he wanted “chicken and vegetables for his tea”.

Texting back at 1.13pm, just minutes before the shooting, he replied: “Yes please.”

Jurors were told during the prosecution opening it was the Crown’s understanding that Houseman might claim somebody else in the men’s Range Rover had shot and killed them both.

Paul Lewis QC, asking questions for Houseman, asked Ms Hassan: “Did Brian ever tell you his life had been threatened because he kicked out some cannabis dealers at a yard?”

“No,” she replied.”

She was also asked “did Brian carry a knife?” and replied “no”.

“If police found a sheath knife in the Range Rover, would that surprise you?”, asked Mr Lewis.

“Yes,” she replied.

Mr McIntosh, driving, was shot four times to the left side of his face and neck, and childhood friend Mr Henry, in the front passenger seat, was shot twice, including just behind his right ear, damaging the brain stem.

Houseman’s co-accused Richard Avery, 33, who the Crown have said was part of the “planning and preparation” for the killings, also denies murder and perverting the course of justice.

Avery’s partner, 33-year-old Francesca Scott, is also on trial accused of perverting the course of justice after allegedly disposing of clothing or other items between September 30 and October 2 2020.

The trial of Houseman, formerly of Quarry Park Road, Stourbridge, West Midlands; Avery, of no fixed address; and Scott, of Lower Valley Road, Brierley Hill, continues.