A jury trying five teenagers accused of “acting as a pack” as they murdered a software engineer has been shown CCTV footage alleged to capture the moment the victim was stabbed in the heart.
Prosecutors claim the enhanced film from a security camera shows three members of the masked five-strong gang – then aged between 13 and 15 – handled two separate knives before the fatal stabbing of Ian Kirwan.
A trial has been told the 53-year-old died shortly after being knifed in the chest by a 14-year-old youth outside an Asda store in Redditch, Worcestershire, on March 8 this year.
It is alleged five youths, one aged 13, two aged 14 and two 15-year-olds, murdered Mr Kirwan, who was shopping for a light switch, after he challenged them for messing about in the supermarket’s customer toilets.
All the defendants, who had travelled from the Birmingham area to Redditch by train while wearing face coverings, deny murder, an alternative count of manslaughter, and violent disorder.
Continuing the Crown’s opening speech to the jury on the second day of the trial, prosecutor Benjamin Aina QC took jurors through slow motion footage alleged to show two boys aged 14 and 15 in possession of knives near a pedestrian crossing outside the store.
Mr Aina told the jury: “One of the matters you are going to have to determine is whether this group of five boys were acting together as a pack, intentionally assisting and encouraging each other in what was taking place.”
Referring to anti-social behaviour in a train carriage and inside a nail bar during the boys’ journey to the supermarket, Mr Aina added: “Clearly their behaviour, if they were acting as a pack on the train and they were acting as a pack in the nail bar, may inform your judgement as to what they were doing at Asda.”
Describing what he alleged the footage to show, Mr Aina told the jury: “Mr Kirwan comes into view and raises his right leg and connects his leg with another person’s leg.
“Two of the group appear to kick out at Mr Kirwan. (A 15-year-old boy) is seen to have his hand around the waist of his trousers.
“The reason why this may be important is that you know (the same boy) has got a knife and you know that the knife made its way into (the 14-year-old’s) hand.
“What the prosecution say is there is a gap – it may be up to 20 seconds, it be may be longer – when that knife would have been out in view before it was used.”
Mr Aina asked the Birmingham Crown Court jury: “What were the other boys seeing when it was in his hand? Did they see that knife out in view?”
The prosecution claims the footage than caught Mr Kirwan being surrounded by four of the defendants and being stabbed at around 7.19pm.
The court heard a 14-year-old boy, who admits stabbing Mr Kirwan but is claiming diminished responsibility, is alleged to have made a quick motion with his left arm towards the victim, during which he is seen to kick out.
The 14-year-old and Mr Kirwan then go out of the view, the court heard, at what appears to be the moment the knife was used.
The youth who admits stabbing Mr Kirwan is said to come back into view a second later, making his way across a pedestrian crossing with the rest of the group.
Mr Aina said: “As he did so he appears to be looking down and his elbow quickly motions upwards, as if he was putting something in his pocket.
“Although the group run away (a 13-year-old boy) initially runs back into the Asda store after Ian Kirwan, who is running into the store, having been stabbed.”
Camera footage from inside the store was also played to the jury, which caught the 13-year-old turning round and leaving the store to join the other defendants.
Addressing the jury after they had been invited to watch the footage of the confrontation three times, Mr Aina told the panel: “You will pay attention to how close the boys are to each other during the incident.
“What you will be concerned about is, are they acting together as a group and had they been acting together before they got there?”
The 14-year-old who stabbed Mr Kirwan further denies unlawful possession of a knife on March 8. Another defendant, aged 15, has pleaded guilty to possession of a bladed article.
The trial continues.