UK

Jury retires to consider verdict in nightclub murder trial

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

A jury has retired to consider its verdict in the case of a man accused of fatally stabbing another clubber on the dancefloor.

Edward Wilson is accused of murdering 29-year-old Akeem Francis-Kerr at Valesha’s nightclub in Walsall just after 5am on March 11.

Mr Francis-Kerr 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.

During his trial at Stafford Crown Court, Wilson, 39, admitted there had been a “scuffle” between the pair after he returned from the toilet to find Mr Francis-Kerr was standing where he had been, and said they both threw punches at each other, but denied stabbing him.

Taking to the witness stand on Thursday, Wilson told the jury his friend had admitted to him after they left the club that he had stabbed Mr Francis-Kerr during the altercation, but he was too scared to tell the police that when he was arrested and questioned on suspicion of murder.

The jury, of six men and six women, were told by judge Kristina Montgomery KC that they could consider an alternative charge of manslaughter.

Closing the crown’s case on Friday, prosecutor Maria Karaiskos KC urged the jury not to be “distracted” by what she called the defendant’s “dishonesty” throughout the trial.

She said: “Members of the jury, please do not allow the wool to be pulled over your eyes. It is dishonest, it is desperate, and it is a distraction.

“When you look at the evidence, the only verdict is guilty of murder.”

Closing the defence case, Wilson’s representative, Nigel Edwards KC, said it was a case of “male bravado and stupidity that ended in tragedy”.

“They were exchanging blows, it doesn’t matter who started it. But if (Wilson) had a knife in his right hand, where were the stab wounds to Akeem’s face?

“We know there were no further knife wound injuries to his face.”

He told the jury that if they could not be sure that it was Mr Wilson who stabbed Mr Francis-Kerr, they should find him not guilty.

Sending them out to start deliberations, the judge said the jury should not feel the pressure of time and should come to a unanimous verdict.