A murder suspect has denied being at the Carlisle house in which Lee McKnight was subjected to a deadly attack — and told a jury he played no part as he was dumped in a river.
Six people — including a father and son, and a mother and daughter — are on trial at the city’s crown court.
They all stand accused of murdering Mr McKnight, whose badly beaten body was found in water near Blackwell Hall just before 5-30am on 24th July last year.
One suspect, Jamie Davison, has told jurors he and Mr McKnight grappled and exchanged blows inside a house at Charles Street, but alleged a teenager, Jamie Lee Roberts, then took the attack to a “whole new level” with punches and kicks.
A second defendant, 26-year-old Arron Graham, began giving evidence today.
Graham said he had known Davison for around 10 years.
There were some times when the pair didn’t get on, but others when they pooled money to buy cannabis. He had no role in Davison’s drug-dealing and was no longer friends with him.
On the evening of July 23, Graham said he spent time drinking with Roberts at a Grey Street address on what was the teenager’s brother’s birthday.
Graham then visited the nearby home of a women with whom he was in a sexual relationship, with Roberts. The teen then left — because Graham and the female began kissing, he assumed.
Graham recalled drinking gin that night and said he left his girlfriend’s to go home — getting on for daylight — but was unsure exactly what time.
Asked by his barrister, Fiona Horlick QC, what sort of state he was in, Graham replied: “Not a very good one.”
He denied going to the Charles Street address that night. “Did you seriously assault Lee McKnight?” asked Ms Horlick.
“No, definitely not,” responded Graham.
“Is that something you would do?” his QC asked.
“No,” replied Graham.
“Did you have anything to do with dumping his body in the river?” asked Ms Horlick.
“No,” replied Graham, who also responded “no, there’s no reason” when asked whether he “would do that for Jamie Davison”.
Ms Horlick asked: “Did you have anything to do with dumping that car in the woods at Wreay that night?” Graham responded: “No, certainly not.”
His barrister had also asked: “Jamie Davison says that he spoke to you at some point the evening about Lee McKnight going around to Charles Street, and he wanted you there because you were allegedly friendly with Lee McKnight and would be able to help him. Did he ring you?”
“No, definitely not,” Graham said, “and I am not friendly with Lee KcKnight. I know him to say ‘hiya’ to, and that’s as far as it goes.”
Graham said he couldn’t recall the content of several earlier phone calls with Davidson.
He spoke of “bumping into” Davison in the Upperby area on the morning of 24th July. “He just said he had been in a police chase and (asked) could I pick a vehicle up for him.”
Later that day, Graham said he cycled out to Wreay woodland, where he followed tracks and found the Nissan Navara used to transport Mr McKnight to the river.
The keys were already in the ignition but he couldn’t move it, he said, because it was “stuck”. Jurors have heard the DNA of Graham, who said he returned to Carlisle, was later found on the driver’s controls.
“If you had known that car had been involved in the killing of Lee McKnight, in one shape or another, would you have touched that car?” asked Ms Horlick.
“No. Definitely not,” he responded.
The barrister had earlier asked Graham: “This case is, of course, about Lee McKnight’s death. How do you feel about that?”
Graham replied: “It’s a bit sad, isn’t it.”
All six defendants deny murder, and the trial continues.