THE entering of pleas by six people accused murdering Carlisle man Lee McKnight has been postponed during a court hearing conducted over a video link which was plagued by technical problems.
Three men, two women and a youth all face a charge which alleges that they murdered 26-year-old Mr McKnight on July 24. They are Jamie Andrew Davison, aged 26, of Beverley Rise; Paul Roberts, 51, of Grey Street; mother and daughter Carol Edgar, 46, and 26-year-old Coral Edgar, both of Charles Street; Arron Mark Graham, 25, of Blackwell Road, all Carlisle; and a 17-year-old male also from the city.
All have been charged as part of a large scale investigation by detectives into the death of Mr McKnight. Police had cordoned off a vast area around a stretch of the river Caldew in the city after receiving a call, at 5-24am on Friday, 24th July, that his body had been found in the water in the Blackwell Hall area near Cummersdale.
It had been proposed that those charged with murder would enter pleas to the allegations they respectively face at Carlisle Crown Court today (MON). Graham, the youth and a seventh person – 40-year-old Janice Edgar, of Charles Street, Carlisle – also face charges alleging the assisting of an offender.
The four males were present over video links from custody while the three women were in the court dock as the case came before Judge Simon Medland QC. Judge Medland, along with Ian Unsworth QC for the prosecution, appeared remotely from Preston Crown Court while several barristers attended over video links from other locations while the remaining legal counsel were in the courtroom at Carlisle.
But the 20-minute hearing was marred by technical issues with some parties observing they were unable to hear others at times on a conference call using the Cloud Video Platform which has been rolled out to courts across the country in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was adjourned after a barrister representing Graham indicated that more discussions were needed before he was in a position to enter pleas.
It is now proposed that all seven defendants will enter their pleas at Carlisle Crown Court in January, and all were remanded in custody in the meantime. A provisional trial start date has been set for May 10, 2021.
“This is not working smoothly,” Judge Medland had observed of the glitches before adding as the hearing concluded: “This is not satisfactory in many respects. I greatly regret the technical problems we have been having.”