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Ipswich gang rivalry was "a bit like a war", defendant tells murder trial

PUBLISHED: 17:14 22 January 2019

Tavis Spencer-Aitkens   Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Tavis Spencer-Aitkens Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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Rivalry between two "gangs" which have featured in the trial of six males accused of murdering Ipswich teenager Tavis Spencer-Aikens was a "a bit like a war", a court has heard.

Aristote Yenge, who has denied murdering 17-year-old Tavis, told a jury that members of the “J-Block” gang from the Jubilee Park area of Ipswich and members of the “Neno” gang from Nacton area of the town “didn’t like each other.”

Cross-examined by Oliver Glasgow QC, prosecuting, he agreed it was “a bit like a war” and that members of the two gangs wouldn’t go into each other’s territory and there would be violence if they did.

Yenge, 23, of Spring Road, Ipswich;: Adebayo Amusa, 20, of Sovereign Road, Barking; Callum Plaats, 23, of Ipswich; Isaac Calver, 19, of Firmin Close, Ipswich; Leon Glasgow, 42, of no fixed abode; and a 16-year-old boy have all denied murdering Tavis on June 2 last year.

It is alleged the murder was the result of rivalry between the J-Block’ and Neno groups for what J-Block perceived to be a loss of respect after a row between two of their friends and two of Tavis’ friends earlier that day.

Giving evidence at Ipswich Crown Court Yenge admitted being a cannabis dealer but denied he was a member of the J-Block gang.

He said that because of the area of Ipswich he came from it was inevitable he would know members of J-Block.

He said that if people saw him with members of J-Block they might think think he was a member of the gang.

“Because you are seen with them you get put in that category straight away,” he added.

Yenge, who described himself as a musician, said he was aware of conflict between J-Block and Neno, which he described as gangs, and claimed he had friends from J-Block and the Nacton area of Ipswich.

He said by conflict he meant that the two gangs would sometimes fight and hurt each other. “I don’t know if they used weapons,” he said.

He said he didn’t know what the source of conflict between the two groups was.

He told the court that the 16-year-old defendant was a member of J-Block and claimed that Calver had been a member of the gang.

During his evidence Yenge said he had been wearing a white and black “West Coast” hooded top on the day of the attack on 17-year-old Tavis but had left it in a delivery van that was used to take the alleged attackers to Packard Avenue where the killing took place.

Yenge accepted that from the evidence the court had heard that a person wearing his hooded top went to Packard Avenue in the delivery van but he denied it was him.

During cross-examination by Mr Glasgow, Yenge said it was a “terrible mistake” that he had been implicated in Tavis’s murder because someone else had been wearing his jumper.

He didn’t accept that the person wearing his top in camera stills taken as the van drove to Packard Avenue had the same build and skin tone as him.

Yenge accepted he had been dealing drugs in the van earlier that day and had left his jumper behind after using it to cover his face because he didn’t like the smell of crack cocaine smoked by the driver.

Yenge, whose DNA matched blood on a seat belt in the van, has told the court he suffered a cut opening a tuna can that day and handled the belt with the same hand.

The trial continues.

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