Knife victim Martin ‘in wrong post code area’, court is told
Trial hears how stabbed teen was on gang ‘manor’
AS another family this week mourn the violent death of a teenage knife victim, murder trial jurors heard how schoolboy Martin Dinnegan was targeted because he strayed into the wrong “post code” area.
The 14-year-old’s grieving parents listened at the Old Bailey to how gangs guarded their territory. And thugs were ready to battle with anyone who came into their “manor”.
The last of four suspects who deny murdering Martin completed giving his evidence yesterday (Thursday) and next week the lengthy trial moves into its closing stages.
Jurors were told that an exchange of “dirty looks” between Martin and his pals and a group of youths cycling along Holloway Road led to a series of escalating clashes.
His young life was ended by repeated knife blows to his back, at the junction of Axminster Road and Tollington Way on the evening of June 26 last year.
Martin “fled in terror” for more than 200 yards to try and outpace his pursuers on bikes but was cornered, punched, kicked and stabbed.
One accused, from Islington, who was 15 at the time of the attack and now 16, claimed he plunged a blade into Martin in “self-defence” – a suggestion “rubbished” by the prosecutor, Aftab Jafferjee, QC.
The lawyer said Martin was unarmed and desperately trying to escape as he held up his hand in a “conciliatory” way, showing he wanted no more trouble, when he was killed.
Martin lived with his family in Evershot Road, Finsbury Park, and attended St Aloysius College in Archway. His parents, Lorraine and James, have been in court throughout the harrowing case.
The 16-year-old confessed to the jury that he had been in trouble for kicking a man, carrying a snooker ball in a sock, and threatening a cyclist with a metal bar.
Mr Jafferjee said yesterday that the quartet regarded the post code area at the murder scene as “their manor” and were armed and prepared to “sort out” anyone who strayed into it.
Giving evidence yesterday, the elder of the quartet, 21-year-old Rene John-Baptiste, a cleaner, of Khartoum Road, Plaistow, said he regularly stayed in Axminster Road to look after his grandmother.
He admitted that he had previously been arrested for carrying an axe in his rucksack – “I found it on the back seat of the bus” – and for leaving his grandmother’s home with a butcher’s boning knife in his pocket. “I forgot I had it on me,” he said.
The prosecutor accused him and his three co-accused of “lying their heads off”.
Sean Clark, 19, of Bennett Court, Axminster Road, John-Baptiste, the 16-year-old, and a 17-year-old from Islington – they have anonymity because of their ages – are in the dock.