Murder victim attacked with axe or hammer after being ran over twice, court hears

A young man died in hospital after being hit twice by a car and then attacked as he lay in the road, a jury has heard.

Robert Keavey and Phillip Picken are accused of murdering Greg Kelly in Atherstone, who the prosecution say was also attacked with an axe or hammer in March last year.


Mr Kelly, 26, was taken to hospital with serious injuries, including a fractured skull, and died a few days later in hospital.

Keavey, 38, of Princess Road, Atherstone, and Picken, 56, of Manor Road, Mancetter, have both pleaded not guilty to murder.

With them in the dock is Andrew Gay, 40, of Manor Road, Atherstone, who has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice by allegedly helping to dispose of evidence.

What did the prosecution say?
Opening the case, prosecutor Kevin Hegarty QC told a jury at Warwick Crown Court that on the night of March 25 last year Mr Kelly turned up at the home of Mr Picken.

He said an argument broke out between “Mr Kelly on one hand and Mr Picken and others on the other hand”, before Mr Kelly then walked off down the street.

“Near to where he was walking was Mr Keavey sitting in an Audi car, with the engine revving to such an extent that it drew the attention of neighbours who looked from their windows,” said Mr Hegarty.

“Mr Keavey then drove from one side of Manor Road to the other side, and ran over Mr Kelly, who was knocked to the ground.

“The evidence of the revving of the vehicle and then driving from one side of the road to the other and then striking him is not consistent in any shape or form with an accident.

“If you deliberately run someone down, you at the very least intend them really serious harm.”

The prosecutor said that when Mr Kelly was first struck the car was travelling at “very close to 30mph” and Keavey had “accelerated very hard and his tyres were heard screeching”.

The jury heard that Mr Kelly got up and stumbled a short distance, whereupon Mr Keavey allegedly hit him with the car for a second time, carrying him along on the bonnet for a short distance before he fell off.

“We say to run someone down a second time plainly means Mr Keavey intended really serious harm to Mr Kelly, or intended to kill him,” said Mr Hegarty, who added that Mr Picken and another man then “came from the house, Mr Picken armed with some sort of weapon, described as an axe or a long lump hammer”.

CCTV
Mr Hegarty said that CCTV showed Keavey returning in the Audi at that point, as Picken was by the head of the motionless Mr Kelly, having picked something up from the ground.

“He was not helping Mr Kelly,” commented Mr Hegarty. “A neighbour came out of her house and saw Mr Kelly being struck to the head.

“If you are going to attack someone on the ground who is already disabled after being struck by a car, you can’t, in any shape or form, be said to be acting in self-defence.

“To attack them in that way leads to only one conclusion – that Mr Picken intended to cause at least really serious harm to Mr Kelly, or to kill him, because he was cross with Mr Kelly.”

Mr Hegarty said the only conclusion was that Keavey and Picken had been acting together - because the alternative was that they had acted independently, and that it was “mere coincidence” they happened to attack him around the same time.

Mr Kelly’s injuries
Mr Hegarty said that Mr Kelly had “a massive depressed skull fracture, where his skull has been pressed in with a circular-shaped fracture, and a fracture running down the right side of his skull to his jaw”.

An ambulance arrived and Mr Kelly was taken to hospital, where he died a few days later.

Mr Hegarty said the background was that Mr Kelly had been given £1,000 in cash by a work colleague on the Friday and had been out drinking.

“He must have had quite a heavy night, because on the Saturday he was seen in Manor Road and, curiously, he was sleeping on the roof of a car parked outside [the house].”

At some stage Mr Kelly then went into Picken’s home, where he fell asleep and the rest of the money he had earned “left his pocket” – either by falling out or someone taking it.

When he woke, he was furious and was accusing everyone in the house of having stolen the cash.

Picken and Keavey, who was also in the house, took Mr Kelly back to his own home in Daffern Avenue, New Arley, to see if he had left the money there, but it was not found.

It was later that Mr Kelly drove his Renault Clio to the Co-op store in Gun Hill and then back to Manor Road to try to get to the bottom of what had happened to his money, leading to a row on the doorstep of Picken’s home.

Destroying evidence
Mr Hegarty told the jury that within half an hour of the Audi having run Mr Kelly down, it had been set on fire, “we say by Mr Keavey and Mr Gay”.

He said that Gay, “no doubt talking about the Audi”, had been heard on his phone telling someone: “Don’t worry, it will be burnt out tomorrow.”


The jury heard that mobile phone cell-site analysis showed that after the attack on Mr Kelly, Keavey and Gay had moved from the mast that covered Manor Road to one which included Apple Pie Lane near Nuneaton – where the Audi was set on fire.

Mr Hegarty alleged that the following day saw Gay arrive in a car outside Picken’s home, where the axe or hammer used in the attack was put in to the car before Gay then drove off.

The trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks, continues.

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