"Hostile witness” accused of giving “thumbs up” to Gosport murder accused during courtroom drama

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A “hostile witness” was accused of giving a “thumbs up” to a murder accused he was trying to “help” during his evidence, a court heard.

Aiden West, 24, was said to have responded with a “thumbs up” to the gesture from witness James Wood, giving evidence at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Mr Wood had given a statement to police in the aftermath of the murder of Levi Kent, 22, on November 24 after Aiden West and Tommy West, 18, went to friend Liam Savage’s address at Harbour Tower where he was taking drugs with Mr Wood.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Tommy West, of Fisgard Road, Gosport, has admitted murder, robbery and possession of a blade. His half-brother Aiden West, of Tudor Close, Gosport, denies murder and possession of a blade.

They were seen running after Levi to rob him of cocaine after he was lured to shops behind Nobes Avenue a short time after 2am having refused to defer payment on a deal, the court previously heard. The victim was stabbed in his Vauxhall Corsa before attempting to escape and crashing his car into a wall and garages. Levi was then chased into Keyes Road before he was attacked again.

The court was shown footage of the West brothers making their way into Harbour Tower and then in a lift up to Mr Savage’s address after getting a taxi from Dundas House in James Close following the murder. 

Despite giving a statement to police at the time which revealed he had been told by the West brothers they had “done this geezer” and used a slang term which meant stabbing, Mr Wood subsequently retracted his statement, the court heard.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yet the long-term drug addict was still called to give evidence by the prosecution before repeatedly insisting his statement was “null and void” and “not credible as I was off my face” after taking a £500 concoction of Class A drugs with friends. 

Prosecutor Nicholas Haggan KC was thwarted in his questioning by Mr Wood who had named Aiden West in his statement. But during his evidence in court he said he had no idea who the West brothers were who turned up at the flat: “I couldn’t tell you if they were black, white, Mexican or Chinese.”

When pushed on whether he knew the West brothers’ names, he said: “I’m not being rude but the statement is totally different as the police put words into my mouth.”

In his signed statement before it was retracted, Mr Wood had said: “Aiden West and the taller male became agitated and were pacing up and down. Something didn’t seem right. I asked them why they were pacing and they said, ‘We’ve done this geezer’.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His statement recounted the West brothers using a slang term for “stabbed” and said they also confessed to “kicking him in”. But Mr Wood went on to say he was “coerced and pressured” by police and “didn’t know exactly what was in (the statement)”.

Mr Haggen asked Mr Wood: “Is the truth you told police but you don’t want to tell the jury now?” Mr Wood, now being treated as a “hostile witness” after opposing his statement, replied: “I was actually high at the time.”

Mr Wood, 39, added: “There’s no summons and no legal basis for me to be here so I put it to you, why am I here?”

Mr Wood went on to admit not seeing any knives or blood on either of the West brothers at the flat, whom he shared a cannabis “joint” with and allowed to use his phone. He admitted to calling police subsequently after “not wanting to get dragged into something”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Following a break in proceedings, Mr Haggen then questioned Mr Wood one final time after an alleged incident when the witness had previously left the stand. “You’ve been trying to help Aiden,” the prosecutor said, before adding: “You looked at the dock and gave Aiden West a thumbs up and he gave you one back?”

Mr Wood replied “no” before Mr Haggen said: “You know Aiden West don’t you?” Mr Wood shot back: “No.”

The case also includes other people who have admitted offences or been charged. Peter West, 42, of Fisgard Road, and Michael Figgins, 64, of St Ann's Crescent, are also on trial, with each charged with two counts of assisting an offender.

Other people in the matter include the brothers’ mother Joanne West, 45, of no fixed address, who has admitted two counts of assisting an offender. Liam Savage, 37, of Trinity Green in Gosport, has also admitted two counts of assisting an offender.

Sarah Flynn, 36, of James Close in Gosport, was charged with two counts of assisting an offender. 

(Proceeding)

Related topics: