Accused ‘worried fingerprints were on murder axe’

Christopher Butler
Christopher Butler
PCSOs and police officers around Priory School this afternoon

Police speak to school after fight in Southsea play park

WITNESSES have revealed that a man accused of washing and hiding a murder weapon told them he was worried about his fingerprints being found on the axe.

Jurors heard statements from student Michael Wakelyn and Andrew Brock, who said Neal Stacey had spoken to them in the days after Christopher Butler’s murder.

Another man, Brendon Willis, 33, has already pleaded guilty to the murder of the 27-year-old at Willis’s former home in Waverley Road, Southsea, on December 31.

Stacey, 49, is on trial charged with perverting the course of justice by cleaning and concealing the axe at his former home, which is also in Waverley Road. He denies the charge.

Yesterday at Winchester Crown Court prosecutor Robert Forrest read a statement from Michael Wakelyn, a neighbour of Stacey.

Mr Wakelyn, who returned to Portsmouth on January 2 with no knowledge of the murder, said: ‘I said “Neal what’s going on?”.

‘He replied “It’s been crazy, police have been around everywhere; the guy who lived in the garage just down there got murdered”.’

Mr Wakelyn added: ‘I said “someone was living in a garage?” in a surprised way.

‘He replied: “yeah, good thing I was caught on CCTV at the top of the road because my fingerprints were all over that ... axe”.

‘I said “what he was murdered with an axe?” and Neal replied “yeah, I used that axe all the time to do the trees”.’

Mr Forrest read Andrew Brock’s statement, telling how he saw Stacey when he went to the chemist at 9am on January 2.

‘We were chatting and he told me that Chris had been killed by Brendon with an axe,’ Mr Brock said.

‘He also told me he was worried as his prints would be on the axe as he had used it to cut firewood out the back.

‘I didn’t know Chris, I never met him but I was aware of who he was.’

Giving evidence at court, Wayne Merritt told how he saw Stacey take a blue plastic bag out a bin in the back garden of Stacey’s home.

Mr Merritt said: ‘I thought it was bit odd he was pulling something out of the bag.’

Under questioning from Louisa Bagley, for Stacey, Mr Merritt said the contents of the bag could have been soft and he did not see where Stacey had taken it but saw him return.

Statements from police also detailed how Stacey was arrested on January 6 and an axe was found in a disused bath filled with women’s clothes and rainwater in his back garden the next day.

(Proceeding)