The man accused of killing Rugby father Jordon Banton by shooting him in the head in broad daylight had brandished a shotgun the previous evening, it has been claimed.
But Darrell Akins’ barrister has accused a prosecution witness of lying about the presence of a gun during that earlier incident.
Warwick Crown Court has heard that 23-year-old Mr Banton was shot in the head with a shotgun at close range in front of eyewitnesses in July last year.
It is alleged three 12-bore shots were fired at Mr Banton as he sat in his Seat Leon car in Newton Road, near Rugby, by Akins, while Paul Clarke acted as his getaway driver.
Akins, 28, of Follager Road, Rugby, and Clarke, 35, of Bluebell Close, Rugby, have both pleaded not guilty to the murder of the father-of-three.
Giving evidence, Rugby man Warwick Alexander said he had known Mr Banton for about 12 years since they were at school, and had known Akins, who was also known as D, for around two years.
He said that in July last year he would see Akins, who drove a pale blue/silver Vauxhall Insignia and also had a motorbike, three or four times a week.
Asked by prosecutor Andrew Smith QC when he had last seen Mr Banton before his death on Friday July 25, Mr Alexander said: “A couple of days before, at D’s flat.”
He said that on the Thursday evening he was collected from his nan’s home in Hillmorton by a friend, Jamie Hoggins, who was driving the Insignia, with Clarke as a passenger. They were then joined by Akins on his motorbike with another man.
After driving round for about an hour, they then went to Banbury.
Asked why, he told the jury: “Because someone was at D’s mom’s houses kicking off. Darrell got a phone call. I could hear him talking. It sounded like he was going mad. Somebody had said there was someone outside his mom’s house.
“We followed him to Banbury. He was on the motorbike with little Aiden.”
When they got there they went to a house where Akins put the motorbike in the garden before getting in the back of the car.
“I was in the front passenger seat. Darrell got in behind me. He had a black case.”
Mr Alexander said he had not seen the case before and, asked to describe its size, held his hands out more than shoulder width apart and said he ‘put two and two together’ about what was in the case – and later saw it was a shotgun.
Of Akins, he said: “He was in an agitated, angry sort of mood. I was feeling quite scared and anxious.”
They travelled in the car to a new housing estate where Akins moved to behind the driver as they drove slowly past a house where ‘a young black lad’ was at an upstairs window.
“He was shouting in D’s direction. Darrell was shouting back. The case was between his legs.”
Asked by Mr Smith if it stayed there, Mr Alexander said: “The case did, but he pulled the gun out of it just as we were going past the guy’s house. It was a shotgun, just a bit more than a shoulder’s width long.”
As to what Akins then did, he said: “I’m not too sure. All I heard was a click, click sort of noise. I was scared. I didn’t want to be there.”
And Mr Alexander said that on their way back to where the motorbike had been left Akins received a phone call.
“I couldn’t tell what he was saying. That was the first time the name Jordon had been brought up. Darrell said it, and I asked him who Jordon was and he said Jordon Banton.”
He added that after they got back to Rugby, Akins had a ‘heated argument’ with someone on his phone.
Of the last time he had seen Mr Banton, he agreed with Akins’ barrister Adrian Redgrave QC that Akins and Mr Banton ‘were clearly the best of friends.’
Mr Redgrave said: “You appreciate the clear distinction between telling the truth, exaggerating and telling lies.
“It is true that on that Thursday evening Darrell Akins was agitated and on the phone for quite some time over this question of problems created at his mother’s house; but you are exaggerating the extent of the way he was behaving.” Mr Alexander replied: “I don’t agree.”
Mr Redgrave put to him: “I shall make it clear to you and to the court that I suggest what you said about a gun on the Thursday evening is a lie.” Mr Alexander answered: “No.”
The barrister pointed out that in his police statement Mr Alexander had said they all travelled to Banbury in the car.
Mr Alexander said he had said that because if they had done so ‘it would have been Darrell driving it as a legal driver rather than Jamie.’
And of what he said in his police interview, he said: “I was scared. I didn’t know what to say. The whole situation was too big for me. I didn’t believe I could tell anyone what really happened.” The trial continues.