Deaths at West Meadow travellers’ site happened after row over sought-after pitch, Old Bailey hears

Police at the West Meadows travellers' site. Picture: ARCHANT

Police at the West Meadows travellers' site. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A 17-year-old murdered two men at an Ipswich travellers’ site during a fight between two women after a dispute over a much sought after pitch erupted in violence, the Old Bailey heard today.

Floral tributes left at the entrance to West Meadows Travellers' Site in the wake of the deaths of N

Floral tributes left at the entrance to West Meadows Travellers' Site in the wake of the deaths of Nathan Oakley and Barry Street. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

At the opening of his trial, the jury heard Nelson Smith, now 18, denies murdering Barry Street, 32, and Nathan Oakley, 18, on December 8 last year at the West Meadows travellers site in Bury Road, where they all lived at the time.

However Karim Khalil QC said the court was expected to hear that Smith would admit stabbing both men.

The mens’ deaths came after a dispute had broken out involving plot number 25 on the site.

A 19-year-old called Stan Smith had been allocated to the pitch and was due to move in.

The Old Bailey, London

The Old Bailey, London

Mr Street was living on pitch 27 and had parked one or more vehicles on the empty pitch.

Keren Wright, the site manager, was in her office and a man named Sant Buckley, who is around 60, came in and asked her to get Mr Street to move his vehicles from pitch 25 so that Mr Smith could move in.

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Ms Wright spoke to Mr Street’s partner, Tammy Smith, and returned to her office.

Shortly afterwards Mr Street, Mr Oakley and Mr Oakley’s father came into the office over an electricity issue. Mr Oakley and his father left, leaving Mr Street inside, when Mr Buckley returned and called Mr Street outside.

Mr Street had been accused of being a bully and a complaint had been made that he had thrown a can of Red Bull through Mr Smith’s trailer window earlier in the day, which at the time had been situated on plot 21, .

The jury heard Mr Street denied throwing the can and Mr Buckley had called him from the office and challenged him to a fight.

It was said Mr Street declined to do so as he wasn’t prepared to fight a 60-year-old man.

Mr Street also claimed he did not have a problem with Stan Smith moving on to plot 25 and everything appeared to calm down.

The court heard there would be four main prosecution witnesses to the events that led to the deaths of Mr Street and Mr Oakley.

One was Tammy Smith, who described early arguments on the site and a confrontation between Mr Buckley and Mr Street, her partner.

She would say that Mr Buckley took off his shirt and challenged Mr Street to a fight, but he declined. Mr Street left the site with Mr Oakley and his brother Ernie Oakley.

Tammy Smith said she heard that some of the women on the site were talking about taking the argument further, including Stacey Webb, the partner of Nelson Smith Senior, the defendant’s father.

Tammy contacted Mr Street who returned to the site with the other two men.

Tammy decided to take sides on behalf of Mr Street, which meant that she would have a fight with Stacey.

A group of men and women went to Stacey and Nelson Smith Senior’s plot, which the defendant lived next door to with his grandparents.

They called Miss Webb out to fight with Tammy and the two women began fighting.

The fight only lasted a little time before Tammy heard screaming from Carol Smith, the defendant’s grandmother.

Tammy saw her partner, Mr Street, running towards the exit of the site before being stabbed twice in the back by Nelson Smith Junior.

Mr Street collapsed at the entrance of the site. The court later heard he had been stabbed once to the left hand side of the neck and twice to the back.

He sustained a punctured lung and heart.

Mr Khalil said: “If this account is correct you may find it difficult to accept that stabbing someone in the back as they run away can be said to be a stabbing done in reasonable defence.”

It is alleged Nelson Smith Junior ran past Tammy Smith and out of the site carrying a knife.

Tammy Smith believes the knife was red.

Mr Khalil said the blade was indeed red, but it probably had Mr Street’s blood on it too.

The court heard Nelson Smith’s father then raced off the site in his Citroen work truck.

Another witness had previously allegedly seen the defendant run out of the caravan and then heard Nathan Oakley, who was outside, shouting “hey bruv, I have been stabbed”.

Nathan had blood coming out of his shirt and when his brother Ernie lifted it either he or Nathan shouted “who’s done it?” and the defendant allegedly said words to the effect of “me, I done it”.

At the time he was seen to be holding the knife.

Nathan Oakley soon collapsed and was put in a car and taken to hospital.

The jury heard he had been stabbed to the front of his chest and the knife had penetrated 13-14cms.

Both Mr Street and Nathan Oakley were pronounced dead at Ipswich Hospital at around, or just after, 3.15pm the same day.

After Nelson Smith Junior left West Meadows Mr Khalil said the teenager ran across fields next to the site.

A police community support officer saw Smith Junior from the police station that overlooks the area.

Officers arrested the teenager very shortly afterwards in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford.

The area was subsequently searched and a knife matching the one described by witnesses was found nearby. It had traces of Mr Street’s DNA on it.

The trial continues.

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