Axe in Southsea murder case could have been stolen from shop, jury told

AN AXE used to kill a man may have been bought from a local hardware shop, it was revealed to a jury.

Friday, 24th June 2016, 6:05 am
Christopher Butler

Prosecutor Robert Forrest told the jury at Winchester Crown Court that two axes matching the description of the one used to kill Christopher Butler went missing from a hardware shop in Havant.

But he said there was no conclusive proof that the stolen axe was used to murder Mr Butler.

It came as another day of evidence was heard regarding the murder of 27-year-old Mr Butler, who was killed in the early hours of New Year’s Day at a house in Waverley Road, Southsea.

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Brendon Willis, 33, formerly of Waverley Road, has already pleaded guilty to murder.

Neal Stacey, 49, is on trial accused of perverting the course of justice by cleaning and then concealing the axe in a bath in his back garden, also in Waverley Road.

The jury was told police officers found the axe hidden among clothes in the bath.

A video of a police interview was played to the jury of officers questioning Stacey.

Barrister Louisa Bagley, defending Stacey, highlighted Stacey’s reaction when told by officers for the first time that an axe had been found in the bath. The officer in the interview said: ‘Your face looks quizzical. Does it come as a surprise to you?’

Mr Forrest read out a transcript of a police interview with Stacey.

Stacey said: ‘I have handled an axe matching this description but this was entirely innocent of any criminal offences.’

The jury was told Stacey has had several previous convictions in the past 10 years, including assault, shoplifting, making a threatening telephone call and possession of drugs.

Jurors have already heard that Willis, Mr Butler and others had been smoking Spice at the gathering at 75 Waverley Road, where Willis lived.

Mr Butler was homeless but was living in a shed behind the address.

The jury was told Willis said: ‘I’ve done him, I’ve put him out of his misery, I’ve hit him with an axe four times.’

Stacey denies perverting the course of justice. He is due to take to the stand today as the defence opens its case.