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Neil Bennett murdered 'over £10 drug debt' in Gloucester Park, trial told

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 30, 2014

Neil Bennett

NEIL Bennett was killed after being chased and stabbed in Gloucester Park over a drug debt of just £10, a court heard.

The four accused of his murder appeared at Bristol Crown Court today on the opening day of a trial that is expected to last up to six weeks.

Lucy Dowdall, 20, and Ricky James, 34, of Spa Villas, Montpellier, Gloucester, Christopher Horn, 30, of Denmark Road and Tyler Johnson, 24, of no fixed address each deny the charges.

The court heard how Mr Bennett was found lying fatally wounded in a pool of blood in the road near Gloucester Park, as the city fair was winding down on Saturday, July 27 last year. He had fled from a ‘drugs den’ in Spa Villas following a dispute with the defendants over money owed, it is alleged.

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At the ground floor flat, police found evidence of cannabis, Mkat and crack cocaine. It was clear drugs were being sold from the property by at least one of the tenants, police said.

Dowdall lived at the flat with James, and had recently agreed for Horn to move in. Johnson was well known to the three and lived nearby in Stroud Road. They all knew Mr Bennett.

Prosecutor Andrew Langdon QC told the court how he was found lying in the road with a knife sticking out of his leather jacket by park security guard Mark Newman.

Experienced first aider Mr Newman tried to revive Mr Bennett, as did paramedics who arrived shortly afterwards, but to no avail.

The fatal blow to the chest had penetrated the bottom of his heart. An earlier wound showed he had been stabbed in the back, puncturing his left lung. He collapsed in the road at 7.52pm and died shortly after.

Mr Langdon told the court how the defendants were back in their flat half an hour later. They changed their clothes, with Horn putting his clothes and shoes in a boil wash in the communal washing machine. Johnson had ditched his jacket.

Earlier that evening Mr Bennett, who had been drinking, arrived at the flat with his friend Matthew Ware.

They had tried to enter the flat where Horn, James and Johnson were inside. Dowdall, who was three months pregnant at the time, was visiting her grandparents.

Security cameras showed the two men entering the flat, but Mr Ware left shortly afterwards. Mr Bennett was seen leaving on his own later, and a row erupted on the steps to the building.

He was seen brandishing a pair of tweezers or a small knife. When Dowdall returned the row ‘turned nasty‘, the court heard.

Witnesses sat in a car opposite the park said Dowdall was aggressive and was egging on the men.

There was a short exchange if violence, and Horn is alleged to have gone back into the flat.

He returned to continue the dispute with a kitchen knife allegedly shoved down the back of his shorts.

Mr Bennett threatened to “come back with his boys“, and then ran across the park, already wounded, the trial was told. The group followed him and sometime in the next few minutes he was stabbed fatally in the heart.

Mr Langdon said: “When the defendants were later seen walking Dowdall’s dog in the area and questioned by police, they said they knew nothing of what happened.

“They were arrested later that night, Johnson the next day.

“It may well have have been Chris Horn who stabbed Neil Bennett a second time. The other three said they did not see it themselves, but said he had delivered the fatal blow.

“They each gave inconsistent accounts to police, demonstrative lies were told.

“This was a joint enterprise. Each shares responsibility for murder.”

The trial continues.

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