Sam Mechelewski Murder Trial: Court hears closing statements as jury prepares to consider its verdicts

The case is being heard at Cambridge Crown Court.

The case is being heard at Cambridge Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

The two men accused of murdering Sam Mechewlewski have again pleaded their innocence as the jury prepares to consider its verdicts in the case.

The jury has now heard all evidence in the case relating to the murder of Sam Mechewlski.

Jordan Shepherd, 23, of Mayfly Close, Chatteris, and Ashley White, 20, of West End, Brampton, have denied his murder.

At Cambridge Crown Court on Wednesday and Thursday, the jury of three men and eight women, heard the closing statements from both defence teams in relation to the murder.

Alistair Malcolm QC, representing White, told the court in his closing statement that it was Shepherd leading the way on the night of the murder.

He said: “The baseball bat had Shepherd’s DNA and Sam’s blood on it, and yet he claims he didn’t use it. It is accepted by the prosecution that it is Shepherd who was leading the way that night.”

Mr Malcolm told the court that Shepherd hadn’t told police he had been held at knife point by White until later on in the investigation.

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He said: “At a later stage, Shepherd made the allegation that he was held by Ashley White with a knife. He knows Sam is dead, because he killed him. Then he makes up the story that he is blackmailed by Ashley White.

“Unlike Shepherd, once he started telling the police what happened, White gave a detailed and coherent account of all his movements, except for one matter. That matter is that he didn’t mention that he had seen the blow being hit.

“That is the only matter that he didn’t mention and the only matter that wasn’t in his defence statement and the rest of it was in full detail. He then added the extra piece of evidence putting him closer to the scene and he did that because he wanted the truth to be out, and he was scared about what Shepherd might do to his family.”

Mr Malcolm then went on to tell the court that White being at the scene of the murder did not mean that he was involved.

He said: “Being there does not make him guilty. The only person that gives direct evidence to Ashley White participating is Jordan Shepherd. You cannot believe a word he says and you cannot convict on Jordan Shepherd’s word. There is no DNA to connect White to anything to do with the murder, other than a baseball cap that was 100 metres away.

“It is guesswork. How do you infer that they had acted together in the killing of Sam? If that is the case then you cannot be sure of that, the only verdict that you can give is the verdict of not guilty where Ashley White is concerned.”

The court then heard from Richard Barraclough, acting on behalf of Shepherd.

Mr Barraclough spoke to the jury about the motive behind the murder, and asked why Shepherd would want to kill his ‘best friend’.

He said: “There can be no doubt on the evidence that has been presented that they were close. The text messages between the two the whole month before Sam’s death is evidence that they had a close relationship.

“This was a terrible thing, a terrible crime, whoever did it. But you have to judge each defendant on the evidence that you have heard.

“Why did he [Shepherd] not tell the police who killed Sam? He was frightened for his own safety, and he gave evidence that he was being attacked in prison.”

The court heard earlier how Shepherd had claimed that he had been attacked whilst in prison, and was being told to plead guilty by his assailants

Mr Baraclough told the jury Shepherd did not initially tell anyone as he didn’t want to be known as a ‘grass or a snitch’.

He also spoke to the court about White’s previous convictions, mentioning an incident in which he attacked a member of the public with a friend at the age of 16.

He said: “What they did was a wicked assault on a young man. So much so that the victim sustained multiple bruising, swelling and internal bleeding to the brain. What did he do when he was released from prison? He went straight back into drug dealing, straight back into being part of a gang.

“We submit that Ashley White is a manipulative and violent young man who is ambitious to progress to the top of the drug dealing world.”

The court then heard about both the defendants’ actions following the murder.

Mr Barraclough said: “White behaves as he does after the murder. White is in a hotel, almost like a victory parade. He is flashing money around. Shepherd is the one who is distressed.”

As he concluded his closing statement, Mr Barraclough said: “The one thing we submit to you is that Jordan Shepherd was a close friend of Sam’s. He had no reason at all to want to see him attacked, robbed, injured or killed and was not involved. He is entitled to be acquitted.”

Ciara Ratcliff, 21, of Sycamore Drive, Huntingdon, is on trial for perverting the course of justice in relation to the case. She denies the charge.

The court heard from her defence counsel, Clare Matthews, who told the court how Ratcliff was ‘impressionable’ and was ‘panicking’.

She said: “You heard how Shepherd accepts telling Ciara that she would too be in trouble if she was found to have a connection to the drugs property. She panicked.

She said she didn’t want to get caught for drug dealing. [Shepherd] told her to delete the messages during a phone call, and said that he was at her dad’s house on the night of the murder.”

Ms Matthews then described how Ratcliff went to the police station to tell the truth, once she realised it was a murder investigation.

She said: “Her intent was not to pervert the cause of justice in a murder investigation.

Ciara Ratcliff is a young girl. She has no previous convictions, no warnings. She is not someone who has a history of criminality. She was holding down a job and battling with crippling mental health.

“Her whole life changed in the matter of a week, her friend was murdered, her boyfriend was being questioned about the murder of her friend, and they were living with her. It is up to for you to conclude whether she knew that it was a murder investigation. Which we say she didn’t.”