St Albans stabbing murder trial begins

Friends and family printed out many photos of Emille Stapleton after he was killed in St Albans

Friends and family printed out many photos of Emille Stapleton after he was killed in St Albans - Credit: Archant

A street confrontation in which a young St Albans man was stabbed to death began with the kicking of a car, a court was told yesterday (Monday).

A necklace hung over one of the many photos of Emille Stapleton

A necklace hung over one of the many photos of Emille Stapleton - Credit: Archant

Emille Stapleton, 20, known as “Millz,” was fatally wounded by a knife plunged into his back in the early hours of October 24 last year in London Road.

The incident with the car, in which Mr Stapleton was a passenger, happened about three hours earlier, a jury heard at Cambridge Crown Court.

As the group of friends were driving back along London Road at about 3am, Mr Stapleton saw one of the same group from before and got out.

But the court was told that a crowd then “appeared out of nowhere”.

It is alleged that defendant Paul Crosbie, 26, of no fixed address but formerly of Camden, north London, was alerted to what was happening and armed himself with a kitchen knife before he left the flat he was in at nearby Benedictine Place.

It’s claimed that Mr Crosbie, also known as “Irish”, arrived on the scene and stabbed Mr Stapleton in the back “almost horizontally and straight” with such “severe” force that the blade penetrated to a depth of five inches, shaved a rib bone as it went in, severed part of a lung and cut into the aorta.

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Mr Stapleton, a former pupil of Marlborough Science Academy, who was 5ft 8in tall and weighed 16 stone, suffered internal injuries and a cardiac arrest.

The prosecution said that despite attempts by paramedics to save him, “he was dead by the time the ambulance service arrived”.

Mr Crosbie pleaded not guilty to murder and also denied possessing a bladed article in a public place. He claimed he acted in self-defence.

Opening the case to the jury of six men and six women, prosecutor John Farmer said the only explanation Mr Crosbie had given was in a recorded phone call to a police operator two days after he was arrested and bailed.

He claimed he was responsible for the stabbing and revealed where the knife could be found - hidden under lead flashing outside a bedroom window of the Benedictine Place flat.

In the call, played to the jury, Mr Crosbie said: “I was the one that stabbed the young male. I didn’t mean to do it.

“Obviously I am going to jail for a long, long time.”

Outlining what happened that fateful night, Mr Farmer said a man named Ashley Jones was driving a VW Polo accompanied by Mr Stapleton and Islam Whetter and girls Bethan Lambert and Dominique Irons.

At about 11.30pm a group of young men and women, including Mr Crosbie, were crossing London Road and obstructing traffic.

Mr Farmer said: “Mr Jones had to slow down. He claims the car was kicked.”

He added that the three men in the car got out and, “harsh words rapidly turned into harsh actions. One of those angry actions was Mr Stapleton punching somebody in that fracas and he went to ground.”

Allegations and counter-allegations included a claim that some people had weapons. But Mr Stapleton was not one of them, said the prosecutor. He added that the two groups were strangers to each other.

Mr Stapleton had taken cannabis but no alcohol, he said.

Mr Jones was then said to have driven off with his companions, leaving the other angry group behind.

However, he said that three hours later Mr Jones was dropping off his friends at the end of their evening and driving back down London Road.

He told the court: “As they passed the point where the previous incident had taken place Mr Stapleton said ‘stop’.”

Mr Jones saw one of the earlier men was there. He looked alone. Mr Stapleton got out, as did Mr Whetter. The other three stayed in the car. None of those three nor Mr Whetter or Mr Stapleton had a weapon.

The prosecutor alleged: “That man was not alone. A crowd emerged. The extraordinary thing is that one way or another the core of the group was still there. Crosbie was nearby, in a flat. He was alerted to events which were unfolding on the street below.

“He equipped himself with a kitchen knife and left to join in the affray. He was not connected with or involved in the incident at all, not threatened by it, it’s nothing to do with him other than his mates are involved.”

Mr Farmer said no witnesses actually saw the stabbing.

But he continued: “What we do know is that the defendant stabbed him in the back. The knife goes almost horizontally, almost straight and most of the blade, five inches of it, goes in.”

Mr Farmer said paramedics arrived quickly but no medical intervention could save Mr Stapleton.

Police used a tracker dog and traced Mr Crosbie to the upstairs flat. He and a number of people are arrested on suspicion of murder, the court heard.

Mr Crosbie said nothing during an interview and was released on bail the next day, October 25 - his 26th birthday. On October 27 he rang police and admitted he was responsible for the stabbing, the jury was told.

The prosecutor said Mr Crosbie told the police operator to pass on his automatically recorded comments to detectives.

He said he would hand himself in when he had said goodbye to his son and his mother among others and sorted out a few things.

Mr Crosbie revealed where the knife was and stated he was one of the 11 people arrested. He said: “I have admitted to this and I will hand myself in very soon. Obviously I am going to jail for a long, long time and need to sort things out.”

He said he could “bring an end to the inquiry” and added: “I was the one that stabbed the young male. I didn’t mean to do it.

“There’s a whole lot more to this story and it will all come out when I speak to the officers but I am the person who had the knife and I am the one who unfortunately took that young man’s life.”

Mr Crosbie told the operator: “It’s just been too much. I cannot deal with this. I cannot sleep. Threats are going round. It’s not fair on anyone else.”

The prosecutor claimed that Mr Crosbie never mentioned he acted in self-defence and his statement that he was “going to jail for a long, long time” was not the account of an attack victim - “but of a person who was the attacker”.

“Our case is that Crosbie used this knife against this man and at the time he either intended to kill him or cause him really serious harm.”

Mr Crosbie was spotted and arrested near The Galleria, Hatfield, a few days later. He said nothing in interview.

The trial, which is due to last two weeks, continues.