A woman living opposite a Carlisle house in which Lee McKnight was allegedly “beaten to the point of death” before being dumped in a river has recalled seeing shadows hitting out forcefully, and hearing cries of pain from the address.
Six people are on trial at the city’s crown court. They all stand accused of murdering 26-year-old Lee McKnight, whose body was found in the River Caldew by a farmer who dialled 999 at 5-23am on 24th July last year.
As the trial moved into week two today (MON), a jury heard dramatic evidence from a woman who at that time was a Charles Street neighbour of mother-and-daughter Coral and Carol Edgar — two of the defendants.
Their address, the court heard, was known for “comings and goings to do with people taking drugs”.
She recalled being woken by her boyfriend at around 2am. And, speaking of watching from the first floor of her home directly opposite the pair’s address, she said: “I could see from my bedroom window shadows of somebody hitting somebody, through their front door, through the glass.
“There was no light on in the living room. It looked like there was some kind of lamp or something on in the kitchen.”
There were “three shadows” hitting just inside the front door, she said, and added: “They were standing up, hitting towards the floor.”
“How hard were they hitting?” prosecutor Tim Cray QC asked.
“I would say the best force that they could; putting their best force into it,” she replied.
“What were they hitting with?” Mr Cray asked.
The neighbour said: “I couldn’t tell you what it was because it was just shadows. I could see it was something kind of long in their hand.”
This lasted, she estimated, about five minutes. Asked what she could hear, the woman described recounted the sound of pain, saying: “As if some male was shouting “ahh”. I heard it three times.”
The three shadows behind the door were men, she told jurors, adding: “I knew it wasn’t Coral, because Coral is just small and petite.
“It was men’s figures you could see. I know how Coral is built and I know how Carol is built. It didn’t look like them behind the door.”
After the shadows disappeared from behind the door, music came on.
“That’s what you could hear, the beating of the music,” said the neighbour, who described it as unusual for that time of night.
When her boyfriend first became aware of something happening at the address, he said it sounded as though “someone is getting a right hiding over there”, she recalled.
The woman spoke of next seeing Carol Edgar return to the address in her Nissan Navara.
The door appeared locked, her daughter answered and she went inside.
“Coral said something to her mam but I don’t know what she said because I couldn’t hear,” recalled the neighbour, who also said Coral gestured over her shoulder back into the house.
“After that I didn’t see any more shadows of anybody. I seen Carol going in there. I seen Coral’s shadow behind the door, as if she was mopping behind the door,” she added, describing a “side to side” motion.
Music was still playing, and the neighbour spoke of hearing another pained “ahh”.
“But it was as if it was further away, as if it had gone to the back of the house,” she told jurors.
Coral Edgar, 26, her 48-year-old mother and four men all deny murder. The trial continues.