Shopkeeper witnessed row between rival groups before Ipswich teenager was killed, court hears

Tavis Spencer-Aitkens Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Tavis Spencer-Aitkens Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY - Credit: Archant

A shop assistant who witnessed a row between members of two rival groups in an Ipswich town centre store a few hours before 17-year-old Tavis Spencer-Aitkens was stabbed to death has described her shock at the incident.

Giving evidence in the trial of six defendants accused of murdering Tavis, Heather Mason-Gransby said she was working in Lush in Tavern Street on June 2 when two men ran in looking scared.

The men ran towards the back of the shop and it seemed to her that they were running away from someone.

“I hadn’t a clue what was going on. I was very shocked,” she said.

She said there were customers in the shop with children and shortly after the first two men ran in they were followed in by two more males who were repeatedly shouting “IP3” .

She said the second pair of men were shouting “incredibly loudly” and had an “aggressive demeanour”.

“It was very threatening and scary,” said Ms Mason-Gransby.

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She said the incident ended when a police officer came into the store and shouted at the men to get out.

Before Ipswich Crown Court are Aristote 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, a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons and Leon Glasgow, 42, of no fixed address.

They all deny murdering Tavis, of Pownall Road, Ipswich, who died after he was stabbed 15 times.

Oliver Glasgow QC, prosecuting, has alleged there was “heated rivalry” between two rival groups which came from different parts of the town.

He claimed the attack on Tavis was the result of what the “J-Block” group, which took its name from Jubilee Park area where they lived, and the “Neno” group, who came from the Nacton area of Ipswich and the IP3 postcode, perceived to be a loss of respect following a row between two of their friends and two of Tavis’ friends in Lush.

Mr Glasgow told the court the fact that members of “Neno” had confronted the “J-Block” members so close to their home turf and the fact that the “J-Block” members had run and hidden rather than stood their ground gave the moral victory to Neno.

He alleged that following the row in the town centre J-Block members, including the defendants, travelled to the area where Tavis lived seeking revenge for what they perceived to be a loss of respect.

“It is the Crown’s case that, no matter what may have been said or done by Tavis’ friends during the incident in Ipswich town centre that Saturday afternoon, there is nothing that any of these in defendants can say to excuse the murderous attack upon him a few hours later,” said Mr Glasgow.

Giving evidence on Monday Sgt Murray Osman told the court he was in Ipswich town centre at about 2pm on June 2 when he learned from colleagues that two prominent members of the “Neno” group had been seen in the town.

Shortly afterwards while he was standing near McDonald’s he saw a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man called Aristote Yenge, who he recognised as being members of J-Block.

He then heard shouting coming from Lush and when he ran into the shop he saw Yenge and the 16-year-old boy near the back of the store and the two members of the Neno group in the middle of the store.

There were customers and staff in the shop and as the men were shouting at each other he feared the incident might escalate into serious violence.

Sgt Osman shouted at the men to “take it outside” and he had frogmarched the two members of the Neno group out of the shop.

He later heard about an incident in Packard Avenue, Ipswich, in which Tavis Spencer-Aitkens, who was friends with members of the Neno group, had been stabbed.

The trial continues.