Horsham father Anthony Williams died aged 37 in a ‘revenge attack’ to protect the killer’s ‘chilling’ drug dealing business, according to the prosecution.
But the defence argued that Mr Williams himself was a ‘violent man’ with his own history of drug dealing and it was him who started the fight which led to his death.
Nicholas Bridge, 18 from Brixton in London, stands accused of murder alongside co-defendant Daniel Omofeghare, 20, of no fixed address.
Both men deny the charge.
The case concerns an alleged altercation in Park Way in Horsham on September 19 last year.
Last week Bridge admitted that his actions led to Mr Williams’ death, but claimed it was self defence.
If the sheath was there to begin with then the prosecution case is on the ropes.Michael Magarian QC, defending Nicholas Bridge
Speaking to the jury at Hove Crown Court today, Philip Bennett QC said: “You know that shortly after 5.09pm Mr Bridge and Daniel Omofeghare entered 12 Burton Close and within moments of them entering you know that the people that were present in the flat left.
“There is a simple question to ask – why?
“Is it because they were armed with knives when they entered?”
Mr Bennett told the court how at 5.12pm Bridge and Omofeghare – who is also known as ‘Ace’ – left behind a fatally injured Mr Williams and drive off.
“They have with them the murder weapon, the knife. They have with them a gun, not visible on CCTV.
“Why were they there? Why did Mr Williams die?
“Was it because earlier that day Mr Williams together with Graham Court robbed Ace?
“We submit that it was a revenge attack for that robbery, an attack necessary to protect Mr Bridge’s business.”
Mr Bennett described any assertions that Bridge did not go to the flat with the intention of hurting Mr Williams, and instead was set up, as ‘extraordinary’.
He also asked why Bridge would take the knife involved in the attack and the gun with him if they weren’t his.
“The knife would be disposed of, the gun would be disposed of. There would be no evidence of the weapon that killed Mr Williams. That is the benefit of taking it,” he told the court.
He argued that Omofeghare was there ‘knowing that the intention was to cause serious bodily harm’ to Anthony.
Addressing the jury Mr Bennett said: “From day one of this case you must have noticed that you are hearing about the murky and dangerous world of drug dealers.
“A world where the user, the addict, very often doesn’t survive.
“A world where the dealer can make enormous amounts of money out of their misery.
“It is a sad fact that these two young men at their young age were dealers
“A sad fact that an 18-year-old man, ambitious, turns to drugs to make money.
“You must have considered that description of drug dealing as his ‘business’ as rather cold and chilling.”
Defending Bridge, Michael Magarian QC said to the jury: “This is an unfortunate and an unattractive case.
“My client was a drug dealer. He’s not an angel, far from it. “Drug dealing is horrible and it does not put my client in a good light but it is not going to help you determine the crunch question of who had the knife to begin with.
“If someone attacked you wielding a knife and then you disarm them and turn the knife back on them to defend yourself that is self defence.”
He told the court that it is an indisputable fact that Bridge suffered a knife wound to his groin.
He asked: “Is it going to be suggested that he did it to himself?”
Much of his closing statement focussed on the knife sheath, which was found by police under a bed in the flat.
Mr Magarian argued that Bridge did not have the knife when he arrived in the flat, instead acquiring it when he disarmed Anthony.
“If the knife lived in the flat and Anthony Williams had the knife to begin with then Anthony Williams was the aggressor.
“If the sheath was there to begin with then the prosecution case is on the ropes.”
He criticised the prosecution witnesses as ‘Tony William’s mates’.
Mr Magarian also pointed to the forensic evidence, which he said links Mr Williams with the gun and the knife handle.
Turning to Mr Williams, Mr Magarian described him a ‘violent man’ and a drug dealer, not merely a drug user.
“When my client [Bridge] was a toddler the deceased was dealt with for being a drug dealer.
“In 2003 he appeared for dealing in MDMA at Croydon Crown Court and he was send to prison.
“He committed a robbery the day he died.”
Mr Magarian pointed out that his client, Bridge, does not have ‘the slightest criminal record for violence or carrying a knife’.
Closing statements are expected to conclude tomorrow, after which the jury will be sent out to decide on the charges.
The trial continues.