Just minutes before Rugby father-of-three Jordon Banton was shot in the head as he sat in his car, his alleged killer had sent him a text to say he was coming, a jury has heard.
It was the last in a series of texts exchanged between Mr Banton and Darrell Akins, who is accused at Warwick Crown Court of firing the fatal shots at close range in July last year.
The court has heard three 12-bore shots were fired as Mr Banton sat in his Seat Leon car in Newton Road - allegedly by Akins while Paul Clarke acted as get-away driver in Akins’ hired Vauxhall Insignia.
Akins, 28, of Follager Road, Rugby, and Clarke, 35, of Bluebell Close, Rugby, have both pleaded not guilty to the murder.
A West Midlands Police detective who specialises in studying text messages written in slang and patois told the jury she had provided ‘translations’ of texts between various people.
There was an exchange between Akins and Mr Banton on the morning of the murder over the brother of a woman Mr Banton knew, who was said to have been ‘disrespectful’ towards Akins.
In one, the officer translated Mr Banton as saying: “He had a lot to say for himself and I’m sorry for getting you involved in this bulls**t, even though it has nothing to do with me. But it is what it is.”
Akins’ translated reply was: “I’m sure that when you first spoke to me about this you said to me why do I think you’re calling about this, and I said obviously what these men do is to do with you. But now you’re not involved.”
At 11.18 that morning, translated, Mr Banton sent to Akins: “Anyway, stop texting my phone. I have not got anything more to say. Just leave it to the streets.”
At 11.26 Akins sent a text which began ‘blood, come link with me,’ which the officer said meant: “Come and meet me now. It’s that simple, because you must think I’m a d***head. I want my money now.”
A minute later Akins sent, in translation: “If you really want this (as in the context trouble) and if you think you not giving me my keys is going to stop me, where are you now? I’m coming.”
Within minutes of getting that message Mr Banton left his home in Spellow Close – and at 11.40 he was killed by someone who walked over to him with a pump-action or self-loading shotgun as he sat in his car in Newton Road.
Following their arrest in Cardiff on July 28, Akins and Clarke were both interviewed by police the following day.
Paul Spratt, for the prosecution, said that in Akins’ first interview, at which he had a solicitor, he said: “I know nothing about this, and I’m not involved in this murder.”
Mr Spratt told the jury: “Thereafter he answered ‘no comment’ to all questions he was asked.” And he made the same response to all questions in two further interviews.
Clarke told officers that he knew nothing of the murder.
He said that on July 25 he had woken at his parents’ home in Bluebell Close at about 8.30 and had a shower and a cigarette before walking to his cousin’s home in Copeland at about 11.30.
While he was there her father, his uncle, arrived. Clarke said he spent the rest of the day there before leaving with his uncle whose home in Abbey Street he then went to.
In a second interview Clarke said he had paid for the taxi to take them to Abbey Street at 12.30am on the 26th.
He said that during the day on the 25th he had not been able to make any calls on his mobile phone because he was out of credit – but had received a couple ‘asking him what was going on, and he said he didn’t know,’ Mr Spratt told the jury.
The callers asked him about Akins and whether he had seen him, and he said he had not.
At some time another uncle called asking if he had a number for Akins, and when he gave him one his uncle said he had not been able to get through to him on that number.
“He said his uncle had told him Jordon was dead, and he could not believe it when he was told. He said before that he had not really heard anything about the shooting, then said he had heard nothing at all, in fact,” said Mr Spratt.
Clarke, who said he saw Akins most days, told the police he had grown up with Jordon and considered they were friends, but that it had been about two weeks since he had last seen him.
In his third interview he was asked about why he had gone to Cardiff, and said he was an MC and went there on the Sunday evening to hand out flyers to promote an event.
He said he did not know the name of the man who had given him a lift because Akins, who was going there to visit family, had turned up in the car to see him, and he had ‘jumped in as well.’
“He said he had previously spoken to Darrell from a phone box, trying to finds out what was going on. He asked about the rumours that Darrell was involved in the killing of Jordon, and he said it was all lies.”
Then in a fourth interview Clarke replied ‘no comment’ to all questions asked by the officers, added Mr Spratt. The trial continues.