UK

Murder-accused tells jury his friend carried out fatal nightclub stabbing

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 accused of murdering a clubber on the dancefloor told a jury it was actually his friend who carried out the fatal stabbing, as he took to the witness box to give evidence for the first time.

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

Mr Francis-Kerr, 29, died within an hour of being stabbed in the neck in what prosecutors say was a dispute over who was standing where in the nightclub.

Prosecutor Maria Karaiskos KC said it was the crown’s case that Wilson stabbed Mr Francis-Kerr on the dancefloor “out of anger, arrogance or jealousy” after returning from the toilet to find him 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.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Wilson denied stabbing Mr Francis-Kerr, saying he did not even know there had been a stabbing until his friend admitted he may have “got” him when they had left the club.

Wilson said that there had been an “altercation” with Mr Francis-Kerr because he asked him to move out of the spot he had been standing, but said: “I wasn’t being aggressive, I was genuinely just trying to get him to move out of the way.”

He said Mr Francis-Kerr was pulled away by bouncers but he had no idea he had been stabbed.

After the scuffle, Wilson said his friend wanted to “get out” of the club, so they left, first trying to get through the front doors of the club before realising they were locked and heading for a fire exit instead.

They got back in the Audi that Wilson had driven to the club, along with a female friend, and they drove away until the female realised she had left her phone behind and they went back so she could retrieve it.

In the witness box, Wilson said: “She got out to get her phone, I drove back around the block to come pick her up. It was a normal drive around, I wasn’t speeding.

“By the time I come back around to get to [her], he said something along the lines of ‘I think I got him’ – I asked, what do you mean?

“He said he thinks he had stabbed him. I said what do you mean you’ve stabbed him? I didn’t even know until he told me.”

Wilson’s defence barrister, Nigel Edwards KC, asked his client if he knew before that point that someone had been stabbed.

Wilson replied: “No. I was shocked when he told me. The way he was telling me, I kind of took him seriously. But by the time [she] came back in the car, we didn’t speak about the situation anymore.

“I felt the world come crashing round my shoulders – why would you do that? There was no need to do anything like that, it wasn’t that serious.”

He added: “I found out the next day someone had died at Valesha’s. I think it came on the news, I’m not too sure.

“Until I got arrested, I didn’t know it was that real. I didn’t think it was the same person I had an altercation with in the club.”

When asked by Mr Edwards why he did not tell police that it was his friend who had carried out the stabbing and not him, Wilson said he was fearful that it would put his son and his mother in danger.

Wilson replied: “There was all sorts going through my head.

“I was shocked, I was scared. My son, my mum were going through my head. If I was to say anything on who done it, they could be in danger – that was what was going through my head.”

Mr Edwards asked his client if he accepted that he told “a lot of lies” to police after he was arrested.

Wilson replied: “Yes. If I told the truth at that precise moment, it would put my family’s lives, my mum’s life, my son’s life, in danger.

“Just now, today, is the first time I’ve told anyone I knew what happened. I’ve got my son, my mum to think about. I need to get back to them, so I’m going to say it now.”

Finishing his evidence on Thursday morning in front of a jury of six men and six women, Wilson again denied stabbing Mr Francis-Kerr.

Explaining why he had his passport with him when he checked into an apartment in Sheffield days after the stabbing, Wilson said his ex-partner, who lived in the city with their son, was planning to book a holiday to the Maldives for them so she needed his details.

He denied he was there to “hide out” but admitted he was “keeping out of the way” after the incident, saying: “My head was gone, I couldn’t think straight.”

The trial continues.