Accused Tavis killers 'hunted their prey and showed no mercy', court told
PUBLISHED: 15:33 21 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:58 21 February 2019
The killers of Ipswich teenager Tavis Spencer-Aitkens "acted like a pack" by hunting down their prey and showing no mercy when they attacked him, it has been claimed.
In his closing speech to the jury in the trial at Ipswich Crown Court of six defendants accused of murdering 17-year-old Tavis, prosecution counsel Oliver Glasgow QC said the case centred around two rival gangs from opposite sides of the town with a “mutual hatred” for each other.
He said the J-Block gang from the Jubilee Park part of Ipswich and the rival Neno gang from the Nacton area would stop at nothing to “get one over each other” and the death of one of their members was inevitable.
In his speech to the jury, Mr Glasgow said: “Few of you could have imagined that a summons for jury service would have seen you immersed in a world of young men who see drug dealing as a way of bettering themselves, who run with gangs because they seem to have nothing better to do, who make music that glorifies crime and who fight with their rivals simply because they live in different post codes.”
“The scourge of knife crime that has blighted so many towns and cities across the UK, the stories of gang violence and post code killings that we have all read about are it seems in fact much closer to home than we might like to think.
“Tragically Ipswich is no different to anywhere else,” he said.
“This case is at its heart as simple a tale to understand as it is tragic to relate.
“Two rival gangs who come from opposite sides of the town, two rival gangs who have developed a mutual hatred for each other, two rival gangs who have fought and hurt each other, and two rival gangs who will stop at nothing to get one over each other.
“The death of one of their members was perhaps inevitable because neither gang wanted to back down and neither gang wanted to lose face.
“Thus it was that they taunted each other, insulted each other and fought with each other until eventually someone was murdered.
“Tragically for Tavis’ parents, he was the victim - attacked only yards from the safety of his family home, attacked in broad daylight and attacked by a group who were armed and against whom he stood no chance.
“The cowardly nature of their violence, where an armed group launch a surprise attack on a defenceless individual, is made we suggest all the more shocking when you realise that his attackers must have assumed that no one would want to speak out against them – why else would they feel confident of doing what they did in the middle of the day and on a residential street.
“These defendants acted like a pack. They hunted their prey and they showed no mercy.
“Anyone who joined the chase knew what was going to happen, and anyone who was present in Packard Avenue is as guilty of Tavis’s death as the next person.
“It does not matter whether they used a weapon, threw a punch or a kick, drove the getaway van or cycled one of the outriding bikes. They were all in it together and they are all guilty of murder,” claimed Mr Glasgow.
Before the 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 identified, and Leon Glasgow, 42, of no fixed address have denied murdering 17-year-old Tavis in Packard Avenue on June 2 last year.
The trial started at the end of November and at the conclusion of Mr Glasgow’s speech, the jury will hear closing speeches from barristers representing the six defendants in the case.
The jury will retire to consider its verdicts after a summing up by the trial judge, Martyn Levett.
During his speech Mr Glasgow claimed that several hours before the attack on Tavis two members of J-Block had lost face during a confrontation with two members of Neno by running and hiding in “Lush”in Ipswich town centre.
He claimed that within 15mins of their escape, the J-Block troops were being rallied and those who were able to help met in Alderman Park where a plan was made.
“A plan to go in search of the rival gang and to seek revenge - a plan to use two spotters on bikes who could quickly ride through their rival’s territory and identify a potential target, a plan to use an unremarkable delivery van to take them to and from the scene, a plan to use a driver who could be trusted and who was happy to help in order to fund his drug addiction, and a plan to go in numbers, to go tooled up and to go ready for lethal violence.
“Thus it was that quiet residential street in Ipswich was to become the scene of a brutal murder, was to so see at least four young men chase after Tavis, was to see at least two of that group armed with weapons and was to see Tavis stabbed again and again and again.
“Why? All because J-Block had to do something in response to the incident in Lush.
“The behaviour of these defendants that afternoon is shocking and quite rightly should be condemned.
“The senseless and horrific attack upon Tavis is so violent that it is hard to believe that anyone can do that to another person and undoubtedly provokes feelings of outrage. The loss felt by Tavis’s family and friends must evoke a sense of sympathy in anyone that considers what they have gone through.”
However Mr Glasgow warned the jury that emotional reactions such as shock and sympathy or like and dislike played no part in their duty.
“You need to put your feelings aside when you enter your jury room. You must judge this case on the evidence and that is what we ask you to do - nothing else.
“But the evidence, we suggest, can only take you in one direction.
“It proves beyond any doubt that these six defendants went out that afternoon ready and willing to respond with immediate and lethal force - six defendants who were armed and were quite prepared to use their weapons to inflict serious or fatal injury and six defendants who have done all they could either to excuse or to lie about what happened that afternoon,” he said.
During his closing speech, Mr Glasgow outlined the prosecution case against each defendant.
He said if the jury was sure that Glasgow drove the attackers to Packard Avenue and he did so intending to enable them carry out their plan to cause really serious harm to someone he was guilty of murder, because without his help the attack could never have taken place.
Mr Glasgow claimed Plaats was equally essential to the plan and if the jury was sure he was one of the cyclists who helped find a member of IP3 for his friends to attack and that he did so intending to enable them carry out their plan to cause really serious harm to someone he was guilty of murder, because without his help Tavis would never have been found let alone attacked.
Mr Glasgow said in order to convict Yenge and the 16-year-old defendant, the jury would have to be sure they were either part of the attacking group or that they assisted or encouraged their friends to carry out the attack.
He claimed that try as they might, their claims that they were not members of J-Block or had not been members for a long time had been exposed as lies during the trial.
Mr Glasgow claimed the reason Calver had not given evidence during the trial was because he knew he could not offer an answer to questions about his gang links and how his fingerprint could have got on a plastic bag in the van that went to Packard Avenue.
He claimed Amusa was “the perfect addition” to the Nacton-bound J-Block team because he was bigger than his co-defendants and was quite prepared to use his size to help his friends.
“That is why his palm print was found inside the van and that is why his DNA was on the neck of the bottle that was used to strike Tavis over the head,” claimed Mr Glasgow.
“The difficulty for all of these defendants is that when you stand back and look at the evidence before you it all makes sense.
“Two members of J-Block are slighted and humiliated by their rivals on their own turf - something has to be done.
“Calls are made and the gang gathers in Alderman Park - a plan is starting to form.
“A driver is recruited and spotters on bikes are dispatched - retribution is now top of the list.
“The van and the bikes meet up and travel in convoy to Nacton. Tavis is spotted and his attackers waste no time in jumping from the van and setting upon him, inflicting as much harm as possible and as quickly as possible is the plan.
“The van and the bikes flee - escape from Nacton is the priority. Anything linking them to the attack is disposed of - knife in the river and who knows where the clothing went.
“No wonder they were celebrating in the back of the van – it had been a success and they believed they had got away with it.
“But in their arrogance they had overlooked what might happen if the van was identified, what might happen if any forensic evidence was found and what might happen when they tried to lie their way out of trouble,” claimed Mr Glasgow.
The case continues.