London

Luke Harwood death: Woman 'led gang' attack

Luke Harwood
Image caption Luke Harwood's body was found near Broadmead Fields with head injuries

A woman led a group of men who carried out a "brutal" attack on an 18-year-old accused of raping a teenager, the Old Bailey has heard.

The body of Luke Harwood, of Havering, was found near Broadmead Fields in Woodford Green, east London, last May.

He was beaten after an 18-year-old woman accused him of rape. Emma Hall, 21, drove the victim and attackers to a location where he was "finished off".

Ms Hall, James Danby, 27, Tony O'Toole, 29, and Jovan Roberts, 28, deny murder.

She along with Mr Danby, Mr O'Toole, Billy Duggan, 21, and Khalid Hassan, 20, also deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

All the defendants are from Romford.

The court heard the 18-year-old woman had complained to the police about the alleged sex attack on her two years ago but she withdrew the allegation.

She had told Ms Hall about the alleged rape at the time.

But she pointed Mr Harwood out during a chance meeting at a house in Romford last May, where the alleged killers were present.

Simon Denison QC, prosecuting, said: "She told the others that he was the person she had told (Hall) about at the time who had raped her.

"The men, over a prolonged period of time, severely beat him up by punching and kicking him to the head, so he was bleeding heavily from his injuries and his face was terribly swollen."

Ms Hall then allegedly drove two of the men and the victim to the bank of a stream in Woodford Green, east London, where the teenager was "finished off".

'Extraordinarily callous'

Mr Denison said: "They killed him by punching and kicking him and stamping on his head many, many times. The bones in his face were crushed."

The group then bought petrol and set fire to their clothes and cleaned up bloodstains at the house, the jury heard.

The court heard that a day after Mr Harwood's death, Ms Hall drove two of the attackers and two other men to the place where his body had been covered with a mattress and other things.

Mr Denison said: "They had with them knives and a pair of bolt cutters that they were intending to use to mutilate his body to make it more difficult for him to be identified by cutting off his fingers and removing his teeth."

But Ms Hall had tipped off police who were waiting for the group at the location, the jury was told.

"His murder was quite extraordinarily callous, violent and brutal," the prosecutor said.

The trial continues.

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