A Carlisle murder suspect asked for a machete “head chop” warning to be passed to a man and vowed to “chuck him in the river like what I done to Lee McKnight”, a jury has heard.
Four men and two women are on trial at the city’s crown court.
They stand accused of the murder of 26-year-old Mr McKnight, whose body was found in the River Caldew early on July 24.
A pathologist concluded he sustained a prolonged and very severe beating away from the site of a gruesome discovery which was made by a farmer.
Today, a jury heard evidence from a secondary school aged boy who had gone with friends to swim in a river at Armathwaite on a hot Friday afternoon, several days after Mr McKnight’s death.
He saw and recognised two of the men on trial — Arron Graham, 26, and 18-year-old Jamie Lee Roberts — and understood they had been camping in the area for five days.
Roberts, he said, had described his pal Graham as radge to a group of teenagers who were also in that area.
It was after 6pm that the boy said Graham — who he knew as Azza — approached near a bridge and asked him to pass on a message to another male.
“He shouted ‘tell him I’m gonna chop his head off with a machete and chuck him in the river like what I done to Lee McKnight’, said the boy.
“That’s what he said and it wasn’t very pleasant.”
Graham did nothing else, recalled the boy, who went home, told his father and the police were alerted.
During cross-examination, Graham’s barrister Fraser Livesey asked the boy to confirm the machete and river comments, which the youngster did.
“Did Azza really say ‘like I done with Lee McKnight’?” asked Mr Livesey.
“Yes, he did,” replied the boy.
Earlier that day, the boy also said he remembered overhearing Roberts say to the teenagers: “My dad got sent down for M and I got away with it’.”
Asked under cross-examination whether Roberts might have in fact said them, instead of M, the boy said: “No.”
But asked whether he heard Roberts say to someone on the phone “I’ve got nothing to do with Lee”, the youngster stated: “He did say that, yes.”
Graham and Roberts, along with Roberts’ 51-year-old father Paul; Jamie Davison, 26; and mother and daughter Carol Edgar, 48 and Coral Edgar, 26, all deny murder.
The trial continues.