The men accused of murdering Sam Mechelewski in a Huntingdon park had their mobile phones switched off during the time frame in which the murder is believed to have taken place, a court heard.

At Cambridge Crown Court today (Thursday) police intelligence analyst Dave Stacey described how Ashley White and Jordan Shepherd could not receive calls or texts between 8.50pm and 10.27pm on the night the murder is believed to have occurred (January 31).

The court heard how the phones belonging to the pair could not be traced to a mast, meaning they could not receive texts or calls or use the internet at the time of Mr Mechelewski's death.

Prosecuting, Richard Christie asked Mr Stacey about the circumstances in which phones may not be able to receive calls or text messages.

Mr Stacey said: "There could be a number of reasons that a phone may not pick up data. It could be due to the phone being turned off, or there could be no phone signal. "We ran a test to see if we could get mobile phone reception in that area of the woods [Hinchingbrooke Country Park]. We went out with equipment at the key locations to see if we could get cell sites [reception]. We discovered that we could get phone cell sites for both EE and Vodafone, which both defendants used."

The court heard how Shepherd had two phones, which were both recovered after the murder.

On one of the phones belonging to Shepherd, 88 numbers had been deleted, leaving him with only eight contacts.

Among the numbers that were deleted was a phone number for White, and two of Sam Mechelewski's phone numbers.

Mr Stacey said: "All three of the phones were turned off within minutes of each other. One of Shepherd's phones and White's phone was switched back on at around 10.30pm that evening."

White, 20, of West End, in Brampton, is jointly accused of the murder with Shepherd, 23, of Mayfly Close, in Chatteris. Both have denied the charge.

Mr Stacey also told the court about messages that were exchanged between Ciara Ratcliff and Shepherd on February 4.

Ratcliff, 21, of Sycamore Drive, Huntingdon, has denied a charge of perverting the course of justice in relation to the case.

One of the messages sent from Shepherd to Ratcliffe read: "I didn't do this, he was like a best friend. I am going to tell them where I was that night and who I was with. Sorry for getting you involved in this."

Packaging from a new phone was also recovered by police in a rubbish bin at Mayfield Close, Huntingdon.

Mr Stacey told the court how the box related to an unregistered pre-paid phone.

He said: "My main objective was to see if it was being used around the time that Sam died and who it belonged to. I also wanted to find out if it had been used in Chatteris or Huntingdon."

The trial continues.