UK

Man stabbed in nightclub because he was ‘standing in alleged killer’s territory’

Akeem Francis-Kerr died of a stab wound to the neck during an incident at Valesha’s nightclub in Walsall (West Midlands Police/PA)
Akeem Francis-Kerr died of a stab wound to the neck during an incident at Valesha’s nightclub in Walsall (West Midlands Police/PA) Akeem Francis-Kerr died of a stab wound to the neck during an incident at Valesha’s nightclub in Walsall (West Midlands Police/PA)

A man was fatally stabbed in the neck on a club dancefloor just five minutes after he arrived because he was standing in someone else’s “territory”, a court has heard.

Edward Wilson, 39, is accused of stabbing Akeem Francis-Kerr at Valesha’s nightclub in Walsall just after 5am on March 11.

Akeem, 29, died within an hour of being stabbed in what prosecutors say was a dispute over who was standing where in the nightclub.

Wilson, 39, is on trial accused of murder at Stafford Crown Court in front of a jury of six men and six women. He denied the charge just before the trial started on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Maria Karaiskos KC said it was the crown’s case that Wilson stabbed Akeem on the dancefloor “out of anger, arrogance or jealousy” after returning from the toilet to find Akeem was standing in a recessed area of the club where Wilson had been standing since he arrived at the club an hour before, at around 4am.

Ms Karaiskos said Wilson deemed that part of the club as his “area”.

She said: “How dare Akeem Francis-Kerr go into that area? He considered it to be his territory.”

After the incident, which was caught on CCTV, Wilson tried to leave the club with a friend but the front door was locked, the prosecution said – before they fled with their hoods up through the fire exit, back to the Audi Wilson had driven to the club earlier.

Wilson, the prosecution say, denies he was the hooded figure caught on camera trying to get out of the club.

Ms Karaiskos said it is their belief that Wilson kept his right hand in his pocket as he attempted to leave the club because he was trying to keep the weapon he had used to stab Akeem concealed.

She added that Wilson was wearing “distinctive” clothing – an Amiri jacket worth around £1,500, black and white trainers and a baseball cap which meant they were able to accurately “pinpoint his movements”.

The jury was shown footage of Wilson and his friends arriving at the club, buying drinks and standing in the recessed area of the bar between the seating area and some fruit machines.

Before the alleged assault, Wilson could be seen going to the toilet and appeared to have a confrontation with Akeem when he returned.

Opening their case, Ms Karaiskos told the jury: “The deceased, Akeem Francis-Kerr, arrived at the club about an hour after the defendant arrived. Within five minutes of his arrival, Akeem Francis-Kerr was stabbed and lay dying on the nightclub floor.

“CCTV showed the defendant and Akeem Francis-Kerr were facing each other on the dancefloor. Akeem Francis-Kerr back away from the defendant and the defendant raised his hand to Akeem Francis-Kerr’s neck.

“Other members of the defendant’s group dragged Akeem Francis-Kerr away and bouncers rushed over, not knowing he had been stabbed, and moved him away to a different area. While lying on the ground, Akeem Francis-Kerr was given first aid.

“Akeem Francis-Kerr was stabbed once to the neck. It went through his skin and muscle and cut both the carotid and the jugular vein in his neck.

“It is our case that the person who stabbed Akeem Francis-Kerr is sitting in the dock.”

The prosecution told the jury Wilson had called Valesha Anderson, owner of the club, three times within minutes of leaving the club, but she did not answer.

Ms Karaiskos said: “She didn’t pick up, she was in the club trying to find out what happened. Why was he calling her?

“By 5.55am he was sending Snapchat messages to someone else saying he needed a taxi number and another to the same person read: ‘Need you to grab something and put it down for a bit’.

“We say the defendant was panicking and was trying to hide the knife he had used, or the clothes he was wearing.”

The prosecutor added that two days after the stabbing, Wilson had checked into an apartment in Sheffield which had been booked by his ex-partner for the week of March 13 to 17, but he claimed he was only in the city because it was where his ex and their son lived and he was visiting.

Wilson was arrested at the apartment on March 14 and in various police interviews, denied being involved in the stabbing.

Both Wilson and Akeem were seen on CCTV at another club, Lexx Bar on Bridge Street, Walsall, before they both separately went to Valesha’s.

Ms Karaiskos said Wilson did not remember seeing Akeem at Lexx Bar. He agreed he had called Ms Anderson, but said he had phoned her to find out what had happened and wanted to know if it was any of his friends involved.

Wilson, of Temple Way, Oldbury – but is currently in custody, denies murder.

The trial continues.