‘Fist fight’ led to teen’s fatal assault, court hears
A dispute between two groups of teenagers meant to be settled with fists ended in the death of a 16-year-old boy after he was attacked with weapons, a court has heard.
Ramarni Crosby was stabbed to death after being confronted by eight youths armed with a machete, meat cleaver and knives in Gloucester.
CCTV footage taken at properties in the Barton area of the city shows Ramarni and his four friends on the run, but a teenager slows down and collapses in Stratton Road where he died a short time later.
Dean Smith, 19, two 17-year-olds, three 16-year-olds and two 15-year-olds are charged with the murder of the teenager on December 15 last year.
Bristol Crown Court heard the build-up and aftermath of the alleged attack was captured by CCTV cameras from nearby homes, but not the stabbings themselves.
Adam Vaitilingam QC, prosecuting, told the jury: ‘The background to the stabbing was a rivalry between two groups of young men in Gloucester.
“In particular, about a week earlier, there had been a fight between a 16-year-old defendant and one of Ramarni Crosby’s friends.
“On the day of the murder itself, these two messaged each other again and arranged to meet up for a fight.
“Ramarni’s friend says the fight would be between five from his group, which included Ramarni, and five from the 16-year-old defendant’s group.”
Mr Vaitilingam told the jury that a second friend of Ramarni also arranged to meet up for a fight.
“He also says he arranged to get together for a fight to settle an ongoing dispute,” he said.
“When the other group approached, they could see there were eight of them.
“Ramarni’s friend could see they were carrying a bunch of knives and weapons. He and the group of friends ran away, but Ramarni stayed and punched the other group. He did not see Ramarni being stabbed.
“He saw a lot of weapons and they were all on Ramarni.”
The court heard witnesses seeing the defendants wearing purple bandanas drawn over their faces.
Referring to the CCTV, Mr Vaitilingam said: “What we see is Ramarni’s group running away and being chased by the defendants.
“Ramarni Crosby is the last to flee and he collapses in the street, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services, his injuries were fatal.”
Mr Vaitilingam said none of the eight defendants were arrested at the scene, which allowed them to get rid of mobile phones and weapons, including two knives, a machete and a meat cleaver.
“A machete was found in a canal by police divers, which is clearly linked to these defendants,” the prosecutor said.
The teenager suffered six injuries to the body, including a fatal stab wound to the chest, as well as stab wounds to the upper back, upper left arm, forearm and top of the head.
The jury was told that phone and social media conversations between some of the defendants had been recovered which included references to buying a ‘chef’ – a knife – in the days leading up to the incident.
One of the defendants also bragged about assaulting Ramarni’s friend, saying they had ‘smoked him out with wood’, Mr Vaitilingam said.
And another defendant referenced stabbing someone, saying, “I thought about annoying that man all night.”
They also told another co-accused: “If we see them, it’s a massacre.
Mr Vaitilingam told the court that one of the defendants and Ramarni Crosby’s friend continued to exchange messages until shortly before the fatal confrontation.
The friend said to the accused, “Why do you think I care?”
And he replied: “You should watch your mother, if you touch a meter.”
Smith, of Lannett Road, Gloucester and his seven co-defendants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny the murder.
A ninth defendant, Keishaleigh Margrett-Whitter, of Lyncroft Road, Tyseley, Birmingham, denies two charges of assisting an offender.
It is alleged that she provided one of the defendants with a change of clothes and swapped a cellphone SIM card.
She is also said to have swapped a second SIM card with another defendant.
The trial continues.