Telford murder trial: Harrowing details of victim's last moments recapped by judge

Jurors in a murder trial have been reminded of the harrowing details of a man's tragic final moments in Telford.

Peter Cairns
Peter Cairns

Trial judge Lord Justice Spencer is presiding over the trial of three teenagers who are jointly accused of the murder of Peter Cairns and an assault occasioning actual bodily harm in Telford on June 11, 2021.

A fourth teenager has admitted the murder charge but the three teenagers in the dock at Stafford Crown Court deny both the accusations. None of the young men - one aged 14 at the time and the other two aged 15 - can be identified for legal reasons.

On Friday the judge began his summing up of the case at Stafford Crown Court and anticipates sending the jurors out to consider their verdict next Tuesday.

The court was told that Mr Cairns, aged 26, and his friend Kaine Bushell, aged 21, had been riding a moped noisily and without helmets together on Rough Park Way on the hot and sunny Friday evening.

They had been sharing some beers on a park bench and Mr Cairns had a go on Mr Bushell's vehicle. But 5ft 11-inch tall Mr Cairns had fallen off and pushed it back to the park bench and his friend, where they chatted.

At sometime between 6.16pm - when the group of four young men were seen on CCTV in Warrens Way - and 7.15pm when Mr Cairns himself called 999 with a stab wound to the chest, the two friends had separately encountered the group.

The group had just before encountered a scooter rider who had felt so intimidated by them - three of them wearing masks - that he had pressed his speed "boost" button and ridden on the grass to get out of their way, the court heard said.

Mr Bushell told the court he had been struck by a wheelbrace on his elbow and a blunt Samurai sword on his back, causing a bruise. The incident had begun after Mr Bushell and two of the teenagers had been staring at each other and Mr Bushell had told them to keep moving.

One of the three defence barristers said their client, the youngest and smallest of the group, had felt threatened by Mr Bushell, and had acted in self-defence.

Some distance away, Mr Cairns had been attacked by the murderer who had charged at him, using the knife in a downward stabbing motion and screaming loudly, the court was told.

The jury will have to consider whether the two incidents are linked, and one encouraged the other.

Mr Cairns had ended up in a bush off the path and was flat on his back, with blood on his Aston Villa top, the jury was told.

Mr Bushell said his friend's lips were turning blue and he had been shouting "keep talking to me" and applying pressure to the knife wound. He was described by a witness as being "hysterical".

The judge reminded the jury of a police interview given by Mr Bushell, who he said was a "vulnerable witness". The reliability of his evidence has been challenged by defence barristers but the judge said it was an issue down to the jury to decide.

Under cross examination, Mr Bushell had said he could not remember, saying he did not want to remember the events of the evening when he had held his friend.

The judge said that when police arrived they had to pull Mr Bushell away from his friend and he had "punched a tree in frustration and distress".

"The jury will have to decide whether he had a convenient loss of memory or the brain has been kind and was shutting out the memory," said the judge.

Before he had appeared earlier in the trial by video link, Mr Bushell had not been prepared to watch his police interview to refresh his memory. He was described as an "anxious witness" who had issues pre-dating the fatal incident, the court heard.

He had told police that he had wanted "to be with Pete, to make sure he was OK."

Mr Bushell had been holding his best friend and some of his blood had got on his clothing, the court heard. He had got upset with the police and "did not know how to cope with the emotions". His partner had just had a baby, the court heard.

Earlier in the day, the judge told the jurors that lies from two teenagers to the police in interviews do not make them guilty of killing Peter Cairns.

Lord Justice Spencer also told the continuing trial that they should consider the age of the defendants.

One had just passed his 14th birthday and two were aged 15 when the tragic events of a hot Friday afternoon and evening unfolded.

The judge told the jury that he was "trespassing on the facts" to remind the jury that the defendants were very young.

He asked each of the 11 jurors to draw on their own experience as or with young people to make "whatever allowance for their maturity and the impulsiveness of youth".

But he added that the jury should keep their feet on the ground.

Lord Justice Spencer started to give his summing up of the case and legal directions on Friday at the end of the sixth week of the trial.

He said one teenager who had been carrying a blunt Samurai sword had failed to mention two crucial parts of his defence at interview, that he had struck Kaine Bushell in self-defence, and that he had intervened to stop a knife attack in which Peter Cairns had been stabbed in the chest.

Jurors were also told that one of the defendants' "no comment" answers in interview must not be held against him. Defendants have a right to remain silent.

The judge told the jury that lying is "not in itself a proof of guilt". He said there are "innocent" lies made out of fear, to protect someone, from panic, distress, or confusion.

"If there is an innocent explanation then you should take no notice of that lie," the judge told the jury.

"If there is not an innocent reason, it can support the prosecution's case."

The same teenager had also lied six times in police interview, and again in the witness box, the jury was told. The prosecution say this seals his guilt but that is at issue with the defence. The judge ruled however that he could be considered to be of good character despite an incident where he pushed a police officer at the age of 13.

"The jury will have to decide," said his Lordship.

The judge also reminded jurors of the key details of the case, including that one of the young men had been "like a brother" to the teenager who has admitted the murder.

The court has heard that the four teenagers who headed off along Rough Park Way had collected their weapons from their headquarters, which was a shed built by one of their fathers. A hammer, and a wheel brace had been tools owned by the father. The Samurai sword had been hanging on the wall of the shed.

There was evidence of gang-related activity in the phones of two of the young men, but not in the third, the jury has been told.

Photos had been taken of some of the TF7 group in the run up to June 11, including one image of members posing under a Welcome to Brookside sign, making gestures of the number 7. The defence says it was a "mere children's thing" where boys were attempting to annoy members of a rival postcode TF3 (Brookside).

The trial continues.

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