JORDON BANTON TRIAL: Victim ‘was cocaine dealer’

Jordon Banton
Jordon Banton

The police had intelligence that murder victim Jordon Banton was a higher than street-level cocaine dealer who also had a conviction for violence, a jury has been told.

The revelations were made by barristers acting for Paul Clarke during a series of agreed facts given to the jury at his trial with Darrell Akins at Warwick Crown Court.

Clarke, 35, of Bluebell Close, Rugby, and Akins, 28, of Follager Road, Rugby, have both pleaded not guilty to Mr Banton’s murder in July last year.

The jury has heard the 23-year-old father-of-three was shot as he sat in his Seat Leon car in Newton Road, near Rugby.

Two 12-bore shots were fired at him in broad daylight in front of passing motorists, and a third after his car swerved violently across the road and into a ditch.

He died as a result of ‘massive destruction’ of his skull and brain, and prosecutor Andrew Smith QC has alleged the shots were fired by Akins and that he was then driven from the scene in his hired Vauxhall Insignia car by Clarke.

Clarke did not give evidence, but one of his defence team, barrister Jeremy Jenkins, read out a series of agreed facts to the jury, mainly concerning Mr Banton.

He said: “The police have sources of intelligence which demonstrate that during the period from April 2010 to the time of his death Jordon Banton dealt in class A drugs, specifically cocaine.

“His role was no longer street dealing, but he had become a higher-level organiser, using people to deal on the streets.”

Mr Jenkins said that in 2009 Mr Banton was travelling in a Fiesta when another car forced it to stop and two men ran over and attacked him with a baseball bat and stabbed another occupant, for which Rugby men Luke Jones and Dean O’Hanlon have since been jailed for five-and-a-half and four years respectively.

In November 2012 Liam Bailey picked up two friends in Hillmorton.

He was then approached by a BMW with men including Jordon Banton in it, and was assaulted and suffered serious injuries to his jaw – as a result of which Mr Banton was convicted following a trial of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

He was also convicted of intimidation after threatening a witness that he would send ‘30 n*****s round’ if he did not drop the charges – and he was on bail awaiting sentence for those matters when he was shot.

Mr Jenkins said the police had also received intelligence that a couple of years before his death Mr Banton had ‘set someone up,’ as a result of which that unidentified person went to prison.

The jury has heard that on the morning of the shooting Mr Banton received a number of calls and texts from Akins.

But Mr Jenkins pointed out he also received a call made from Nottingham from a number stored in his contacts, but the police were unable to establish whose number it was.

The jury also heard it was agreed there was no scientific evidence to link Clarke with clothing recovered from the Insignia, in which were found fingerprints of two other people as well as those of him and Akins, and no gunshot residue was found on any of his clothing.

Mr Jenkins added that Clarke had no drugs convictions, although he had an old caution for possessing cannabis, and had three convictions for violence including assault and affray, but none causing serious injury and none involving a weapon.

At the end of the defence case, Mr Smith said it had been decided not to ask the jury to return a verdict on a second charge of possessing a firearm with intent to commit an offence, which both men had also denied.

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones discharged the jury from returning a verdict on that charge.

In his closing speech to the jury, Mr Smith said: “There is no doubt that Jordon Banton was murdered. The prosecution submits there is no doubt that Darrell Akins and Paul Clarke were responsible for Jordon Banton’s murder.

“The prosecution contends that the conclusion that these two defendants are guilty of murder is one that is safely reached after a detached review of the evidence you have seen, heard and read over the past few weeks.

“The evidence shows Darrell Akins’ anger and animosity towards Jordon Banton in the hours and minutes before his death.

“The murder of Jordon Banton was not an act that Darrell Akins could carry out alone; he required a close associate, someone he could rely on, someone who knew what was happening and willing thereafter to adopt an identical stance.

“Paul Clarke’s account to the police of being with family members at all relevant times has been thoroughly undermined. It is one even he does not rely on, although he has not told you that himself from the witness box.

“Jordon Banton died as a result of a shot to his head. The first shot was fired as Jordon Banton turned to look over his shoulder; the second, which must have caused the fatal injury, was fired just moments later, a close-range shot to the head.

“This was also a gunman who was angry with Jordon Banton. Why else would that individual follow the path of the now-crashed car and fire again at the passenger side? That was not a necessary act, it was a personal act.

“On that Friday morning the evidence points to one person in particular bearing serious hostility towards Jordon Banton. That person was, of course, Darrell Akins.

“Who was it Darrell Akins was with at the time? The conclusive answer is his trusted friend Paul Clarke.

“We cannot say with certainty which of them took which role in Newton Road, which one fired the loaded shotgun and which drove away. But we have always said Darrell Akins may be the more likely gunman.”

The trial continues.