Connor Brown murder trial: Defendants return to court after week-long break - here's the case so far

The trial into the murder of Sunderland teenager Connor Brown will resume on Monday, December 2.

Monday, 2nd December 2019, 6:00 am

Seven days of evidence have already been heard as the prosecution outlined its case after Leighton Barrass and Ally Gordon, both 20, denied murdering the 18-year-old Farringdon lad.

The trial, which was last heard on Thursday, November 21, took a week-long break and will resume on Monday, December 2.

This is what has been heard at court so far:

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Two men stand trial for the murder of Connor Brown.

Who are the accused?

Leighton Barrass, of Hartside Square, and Ally Gordon, of Polmuir Road, are standing trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

The pair are charged with and have denied the murder of doctor’s receptionist Connor Brown who was stabbed in a back lane near Gatsby’s, in Sunderland, in the early hours of Sunday, February 24.

What do the prosecution say happened?

Connor Brown

On the first day of the trial, Jamie Hill QC outlined the prosecution’s case. The court heard Connor had entered the back lane with friend Stephen Nunn who was approached by the defendants. Barrass and Gordon had tried to sell Mr Nunn drugs, who had declined, before an altercation broke out following a row over £5. Mr Nunn admitted to punching Barrass who then retreated up the lane.

Mr Hill QC told the court: “Unfortunately, Barrass and Gordon did not go far, and it seems that Barrass, having been punched on the nose, and having been, in his mind, embarrassed, was out for revenge; and Gordon was more than willing to help.”

The prosecution say Barrass returned waving a knife in the air and threatened to stab anyone and that Connor ‘bravely’ stepped forward and punched him to stop him carrying out his threat.

The court heard Barrass then stabbed Connor in the chest, the 18-year-old tried to fight back but bleeding heavily he fell to the floor with Barrass on top continuing to wield the knife. It is at this point that Gordon began kicking and stamping at Connor until he was fought off.

Tributes to Connor left in Sunderland City Centre, around Park Lane.

Connor was stabbed five times including one which entered his heart.

Paramedics tried desperately to save Connor and carried out emergency surgery in the street before he was rushed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary where he sadly passed away less than an hour later.

Where were the accused arrested and what did they say to police?

Leighton Barrass fled from the scene but fell to the ground and was restrained by a nearby doorman who was alerted to the incident. Security staff were able to flag down a passing police car.

The court heard about Barrass had spoke to his mother on the phone in custody in which he said he was sorry. He was taken to South Tyneside Hospital for treatment and tried to speak to the officer with him about what had happened and said: “I didn’t mean to do it, he hit me first.”

He also told one officer: “I’m going to get at least five years for this. He hit me first.”

Ally Gordon left the scene and returned home to his grandmother’s house. He told his grandmother his friend had been stabbed and she soaked his white trainers which had spots of blood on them. Jurors were told Gordon travelled to Scotland after the killing and was arrested in Edinburgh.

He was then taken to Southwick police station where he was interviewed in the early hours of February 25.

Gordon told detectives: "Someone was killed and I was there, I can't put it any simpler".

He added: "I'm telling you nowt apart from I haven't ******* done it'."

Who has given evidence so far in the prosecution’s case and what did they say?

Stephen Nunn: Connor’s friend who was with him during the initial altercation with Barrass and Gordon. During a police interview he said Barrass "looked off his head or wired" and started to get "rowdy, swearing and stuff".

Dominic Moan: In his police interview Dominic said: “I heard [Barrass] come back and shouting “I’ll f****** stab any one of yous”.“I can see this thing sparking in his hand... it was a knife.”

Kieron Eade: Describing the incident, he said Connor stepped back from the fight. Adding: “He was covered in blood. I said ‘Connor, I think you’ve been stabbed mate.”

Sam Foster: Told jurors Barrass had offered him pills before the incident in the back lane.

Joshua King: Describes the way Barrass “charges down” or heads down in “an angry walk” with the knife.

Sam Lilley: Witnessed the fight, he told jurors: "Connor was trying to hit him back but you could tell he was getting tireder and tireder."

Renea Young: Describes the lead up to the incident, she said Barrass was punched in the face and say: “Watch what I do when I come back here.”

Chloe Ganley: Lived next to Connor for 14 years. She was knocked to the floor as she tried to intervene. She called Connor’s dad after seeing him covered in blood.

Chelsea Thompson: In her police interview she toldofficers she believes Connor must have known something was wrong and describes their fight as a scrap.

Dylan Ashworth: Told police he hadn’t realised the seriousness at first. He said he started to realise "it didn't seem right" and added: "I saw [Connor] lying on the floor. He stumbled and was lying on the floor.”

Simon Hall: Was in the back lane, he describes hearing a girl say 'He's been stabbed'.

James Bird: A member of door staff. He said the man he had restrained [Barrass] who claimed he had been stabbed and he and Joe, another member of security, went to check. He said: “Joe rolled him over and there was only blood on his face.”

Daniel McCourt: Another member of door staff: Was alerted to a man who appeared injured [Connor], he said: “He was trying to walk along and I think I spoke to him and said stop. That’s when he collapsed.”

Pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton: She said Connor had suffered five stab wounds, one cut, and had 11 other injuries on his body.

Dr Diana Garside: Talked through toxicology reports, she said Barrass had taken cocaine and also had a significant of Alprazolam - known as Xanax - in his system.

Detective Constable Mark Wedderburn: Talked jurors through the various CCTV clips taken throughout the day in the lead up and after the attack.

John Newell: Blood stain expert, with Jamie Hill QC, Mr Newell prosecuting, talked through evidence recovered from the scene and the defendants. He said the DNA on the blade found at the scene matched Leighton Barrass and Connor Brown’s DNA profiles.

Marie Alcock: Gordon’s grandmother. In a statement, Ms Alcock said Gordon returned at around 2am he came back and told her a friend had been stabbed.

She said she cleaned his trainers because they had blood stains on them.

Detective Sergeant Angus Grassie: Talked through the police interview with Barrass and Gordon following the arrests.

What weapon was used in the fatal stabbing?

Prosecution witness, forensic scientist John Newell told jurors he examined a silver lock knife which was extensively blood stained.

The court heard a DNA sample taken from the blood on knife matched the profile of Connor and added: "The findings would be in keeping with the knife being used to injure Connor Brown in a stabbing action".

When will the case resume?

The case will not sit this week and will instead return on Monday, December 2. The defence’s argument is due to begin after the case resumes next week.