A Brinklow teenager who killed another young man who died three days after being stabbed to the heart following an argument over a stolen Playstation has admitted manslaughter.
Levi Whitmore-Wills had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the murder of 23-year-old Patrick Hill during an incident at a Coventry flat in February.
But on the day of his trial the charge was put again, and Whitmore-Wills (19) of Coventry Road, Brinklow, near Rugby, pleaded guilty to an alternative offence of manslaughter.
Accepting that, prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC said: “Our view is it would not be in the interests of justice [to continue with a murder charge] in the unusual circumstances of this case.”
Miss Darlow said Mr Hill had been stabbed in the chest while he and his brother were at the home of Whitmore-Wills’s 16-year-old girlfriend in Earlsdon.
She said Mr Hill and his younger brother James had spent the afternoon and evening of Saturday February 9 together, and had bought alcohol at various shops before visiting the home of a man who lived in Albany Road, Earlsdon.
While there, they stole various items including bottles of aftershave, fragrances, clothing and the man’s Playstation, which they planned to sell to buy cocaine.
After leaving, they encountered Whitmore-Wills and his girlfriend, and Whitmore-Wills agreed to buy the Playstation for £50 which he said he could get on his bank card which was at his girlfriend’s flat nearby.
But whlethey were all at the flat at about 2.20 in the morning, ‘the situation turned sour’ after Whitmore-Wills had difficulty finding his card, and an argument broke out.
Frightened at what the brothers might do, the 16-year-old girl went to her bedroom and called the police, and when Whitmore-Wills went to speak to her, she asked him to get them to leave.
As things escalated, Whitmore-Wills headbutted Patrick Hill to the face, and he dropped to the floor.
“James Hill was annoyed, and he told the defendant if he wanted a straight fight they should go outside. The defendant instead produced a knife which he held by his side.”
The court heard it was an eight-inch hunting knife with a 4-5-inch blade, which Whitmore-Wills later said he had bought of couple of days earlier for fishing.
“He didn’t threaten them, but said he didn’t want any trouble, and for them to leave,” said Miss Darlow.
James Hill left, and had got to the communal stairway, expecting his brother to follow, when Patrick ran past him, holding his chest with both hands and saying he had been stabbed.
So James followed his brother out of the block where he collapsed on the grass.
The girl, who had again locked herself in her bedroom, said there had been a lot of shouting, and then it went quiet, and she had feared the brothers had done something to Whitmore-Wills.
“But then he knocked on her door, and he said they had gone and that he had stabbed one of them. He was standing there with the knife, with blood on it and on his hand.”
Miss Darlow said Whitmore-Wills told his girlfriend: “He went for me, and I had to go for him.”
Meanwhile outside, the police and an ambulance attended, and as Patrick Hill was rushed to hospital, officers followed a trail of blood to the flat where Whitmore-Wills was arrested.
“He was clearly upset, and it’s right that he did express concern,” said Miss Darlow.
At hospital Patrick Hill, who had been stabbed to the chest, with the knife going up to 10cm deep into his lung and into the left ventricle of his heart, underwent emergency surgery.
But he never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead in hospital on February 13.
Whitmore-Wills later said he had decided to trick the brothers into leaving by agreeing to go outside to fight, but that the younger brother had picked up a pair of scissors.
He said he had kicked at the scissors and tried to grab them, and that the other brother had then gone for him, so he hit him, and did not realise at the time that he had stabbed him.
The court heard that Whitmore-Wills had convictions for violence, including battery and common assault, when he was younger, including assaults on two social worker and on a member of staff at a children’s home where he was living at the time.
Miss Darlow added that in a statement, Mr Hill’s grandmother Patricia Hill, who had brought the brothers up, spoke of a ‘special bond’ between her and Patrick, and described his death as ‘having broken her.’
Rachel Brand QC, defending, said: “It is perfectly clear this was utterly unpremeditated. He did not mean to cause really serious injury.
“When it became clear to him that he had, he exhibited true, genuine remorse. This is someone who bitterly regrets what happened. He knows he has to spend the rest of his life getting to grips with this.”
And Joseph Campbell, who had first dealt with Whitmore-Wills when he worked for Coventry Youth Offending Team and more recently while working with the Through Care team, which supports young people after they have left care, described Whitmore-Wills as ‘showing genuine remorse.’
He said Whitmore-Wills had told him: “Whatever happens to me now, I’ve got to live with this for the rest of my life.”
Adjourning the case and remanding Whitmore-Wills in custody, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told him: “I will pass sentence tomorrow.”