Axe murderer had tools stashed at Southsea house, court told

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JURORS have heard how killer Brendon Willis had ‘tools stashed’ at the house where he murdered Christopher Butler with an axe.

Eugene Bell, who had been out buying the then legal high Spice with both Willis, 33, and Mr Butler (pictured), gave evidence via a written statement this morning at Winchester Crown Court.

The court heard yesterday that Willis pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to murdering Butler, 27, at 75 Waverley Road in Southsea.

Neal Stacey, 49, is on trial accused of perverting the course of justice by cleaning and then concealing the murder weapon in a bath.

In a statement, read out in court by prosecutor Robert Forrest, Mr Bell said of Willis: ‘He had a lot of tools stashed around the house.

‘By tools I mean things like an axe, a kindle splitter, and various knives.

‘The axe was stashed in number 75 but I don’t remember where in the house.’

He added: ‘About a month before it happened he showed me the axe, this was inside 75.

‘I said that it looked like... it could be used to do some proper damage as it was quite a weighty axe.’

Mr Bell said he knew Willis for about two years but had known Mr Butler since the victim was younger in Leigh Park but Mr Butler moved to live in 32 Waverley Road in around 2013.

‘On 31st December, Brendon, Chris and I went out that day,’ he added.

‘I can’t say the time but we went out.

‘I don’t want to go into what we were doing that do other to say obtaining some money to buy Spice.’

He added: ‘I got to the Spice shop at about 5.45pm just before it was about to close.’

Mr Butler said he bought a couple of bags of Spice for £15 before they went back to 75 Waverley Road as they were going to celebrate New Year’s together.

He said initially he was downstairs and smoked the legal high before going upstairs to the ‘free room’ where Willis and Mr Butler were, and where Neil McAvery joined them later.

He added two other men, Justin Bale and Brett Cook, were also at the gathering but did not know the order in which people arrived.

‘We were all sat around smoking having a laugh,’ Mr Bell said.

He added: ‘Everyone was talking, having a smoke.

‘Chris was crashed out on the mattress on the floor.’

Mr Bell said he returned to his own home at another address in Waverley Road and crashed out, before being woken up at about 20 minutes past midnight on New Year’s Day by fireworks.

He again woke up at about 8am and saw police cars outside the house where Mr Butler was murdered.

Jurors were told yesterday that Willis confessed the murder to Mr McAvery, who had returned to the party at about 10.30pm to find it had ended.

The court heard that sitting on the stairs together, Willis told Mr McAvery: ‘I’ve done Chris.’

Mr Forrest said Willis later met with Yasmin McCue and Stacey before going back to their home.

He told the jury Miss McCue saw Stacey wash the axe and that he hid it in the bath in the garden behind their home.

Mr Forrest said Miss McCue’s evidence is ‘hotly in dispute’ by Stacey.

Today jurors heard a statement from PC Stewart Ainsley, who was the first police officer at the murder scene.

PC Ainsley, in a statement read by Mr Forrest, said he walked into the first floor room and saw a mattress on the floor with a foot sticking out from under the duvet.

He said he approached the head end, where the duvet was slightly folded back.

PC Ainsley added: ‘I approached the end of the bed, I could see a head.

‘The head was totally covered in blood and I could see a number of what I would describe as large deep slash wounds on the right hand said of the head.

‘In addition to this there was blood on the wall immediately in front of the head and also on the wall to the left-hand side of the body.’

He said he then updated the force control room saying the death was suspicious and more police arrived.

The court also heard from Gareth Molloy, who lived with his girlfriend Faye Mitchell on the second floor at 75 Waverley Road.

He said he had been out buying heroin and had taken some before hearing Mr McAvery shout.

Mr Molloy went into the room where Mr Butler’s body was but thought it was a joke.

He said Miss Mitchell went into the room and lifted the duvet.

‘The head didn’t look right at all, it didn’t look natural,’ Mr Molloy said.

He also told how the front door of the house was not locked and that previously a ‘local alcoholic’ was found ‘looking for somewhere to sleep’.

Mr Molloy also added: ‘If you hang around Waverley Road long enough someone will come along wanting to sell you gear or wanting to score themselves.’

Stacey, formerly of Waverley Road, denies perverting the course of justice.

Willis, also formerly of Waverley Road, admitted murder at a previous hearing.