'Drug dealer seen holding pirate's sword' moments after Ipswich stabbing
PUBLISHED: 18:50 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:50 11 July 2019
A friend of alleged murder victim Daniel Saunders has described the harrowing moments after his "best mate" was fatally stabbed in Ipswich.
Ben Wright, 32, told the jury at Ipswich Crown Court how events unfolded when his friend was stabbed to death on December 16 last year.
A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is alleged to have stabbed Daniel Saunders in an alleyway near Turin Street on the Sunday afternoon.
The teenager, from Bury St Edmunds, who denies murder, is on trial with five other defendants, all of whom deny assisting an offender by disposing of his clothing and harbouring him at a caravan park.
They are Arjun Jadeja, 18, of The Nook, Wivenhoe; Benjamin Gosbell, 20, of Gratian Close, Highwoods, Colchester; Olusola Durojaiye, 33, of Appleton Mews, Colchester; a 16-year-old boy from Bury St Edmunds, and a 17-year-old boy from Colchester.
Mr Wright told the court that he had bought breakfast from a Co-op store with Mr Saunders on the day of the stabbing.
The pair left holding a snack and a drink, and encountered a drug dealer in an alleyway near Turin Street, the court heard.
Mr Wright said the dealer, who he believed to be around 16 or 17 years of age, was associated with the drug supply line known as 'Rico and Frank'.
He said they had met some weeks previously when the dealer had sold him drugs in the vicinity of Alexandra Park.
On December 16, Mr Wright said he decided to purchase crack cocaine and heroin from the dealer, and handed over £60. The drugs were then given to Mr Saunders, the court heard.
On heading back up the alleyway, Mr Wright said he heard a loud slapping noise, followed by a groan.
He told the court he heard Mr Saunders shout out to him, urging him to run away, when he made eye contact with the dealer - who was holding what looked like a two-to-three foot "pirate's sword".
"I heard him go: 'Ow', and [he was] shouting my name," Mr Wright said.
"[The dealer] was at the end of the alley, looking at me, [holding] a sword.
"It was black and sort of like a pirate's sword.
"For a minute I didn't know what to do and then I turned around and ran."
Mr Wright said he found Mr Saunders at the junction with Kenyon Street and Turin Street.
He said: "He was on the floor on his back. His eyes were wide open.
"I shouted: 'Dan, Dan, Dan.' I kept screaming his name - that is all I remember.
"It all happened so fast. He wasn't bleeding that much, I think most of it was internal bleeding."
He added that he didn't see the dealer with the sword again.
Mr Wright said he left before the police arrived as he was "not overly keen" to speak to officers.
Questioned about why he was uncomfortable co-operating with the police, he said he was wanted for an unrelated offence.
Representing the 17-year-old defendant accused of murder, barrister William Carter referred to a police interview with Mr Wright conducted in January 2019, when the witness is alleged to have told officers he saw something resembling a weapon in Mr Saunders' pocket on the day of the stabbing.
Mr Wright had told the jury earlier that neither he nor Mr Saunders were carrying anything but their drinks and snacks from the Co-op, along with some money and mobile phones.
Mr Carter read out a section of Mr Wright's police interview, when he is alleged to have said Mr Saunders had "a lot of people after him".
When asked if Mr Saunders was carrying a knife on December 16, he allegedly added: "He's got a lot of beef. I think he might [have been]. He had like a little pole - a bit of metal in his pocket."
Mr Wright is also alleged to have told officers both he and Mr Saunders had been wrongly linked to robberies involving drug dealers and drug users.
The witness told the court: "People were using our names, pretending to be us."
Mr Wright added that he had never been involved in robberies of that sort.
However, Mr Carter said the witness had previously told police: "It's been a long time [since I have done anything like that]," adding: "I can't say for Dan. But when he [was] with me, he didn't do none of that stuff. He was a good guy."
In court, Mr Wright maintained: "I do not rob dealers."
The trial continues.