London

Jodie Chesney: Murder accused 'refused to help police'

Jodie Chesney at 2018 London Pride Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Jodie Chesney was stabbed while in a park with friends

A man accused of murdering a teenage girl who was stabbed in a park claimed to be "deeply saddened" to hear of her death but refused to help police, a court has heard.

Manuel Petrovic, 20, is one of four people jointly accused of murdering Jodie Chesney.

The 17-year-old was stabbed in the back as she sat with friends in a park in Harold Hill, east London, on 1 March.

The Old Bailey has heard she was caught up in a dispute between drug dealers.

Mr Petrovic, a second man Svenson Ong-a-kwie, 19, and two youths aged 16 and 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, from Barking and Romford, all deny murdering Jodie.

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Manuel Petrovic admitted driving to Harold Hill with a friend and two others

The court heard Mr Petrovic was arrested within days of her death after his Vauxhall Corsa was linked to the scene around the time of the stabbing.

Initially, he denied involvement in Jodie's murder and said his car had been stolen in a knifepoint robbery.

Jurors were told he later admitted to owning the Vauxhall and having a mobile phone he used for selling cannabis.

He said: "I would like to say that I have no involvement in the murder of Jodie Chesney. I am deeply saddened by her death and feel for her friends and family."

Mr Petrovic refused to name anyone he had been with that night "due to my own safety and the safety of my family", saying people had already gone to his house looking for him.

Image caption Jodie Chesney was stabbed in a park in Harold Hill

The court heard Mr Petrovic said he had been with a friend on 1 March who received a call from a man, who was not named, asking for a lift.

They picked up that man, who was with another person, and drove to Harold Hill so the men could "collect some weed and some money".

In his police statement, Mr Petrovic said the two unnamed men got out at Harold Hill, leaving him and his friend in the car.

He said the men were gone for up to five minutes and "seemed calm" when they returned.

"Nothing about them made me suspicious. I did not see either of them carrying anything," he added.

Image copyright Facebook/Family photo
Image caption Jodie's father described his daughter as "a beautiful, well-liked, fun, young woman"

After dropping the two men off, Mr Petrovic claimed a black male had pulled a knife to his throat and snatched his car keys.

He said he heard the next day that a girl had been stabbed in Harold Hill and added he "hoped it had nothing to do with why I was in the area" with the two unnamed men.

Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told jurors: "You may recall Petrovic's claim to have been 'deeply saddened' by Jodie's death.

"Nonetheless, Petrovic was not willing to help the police. He continued to make no comment until the police gave up asking questions."

Image copyright Julia Quenzier
Image caption Manuel Petrovic (left), Svenson Ong-a-Kwie (right) and two boys (behind) who cannot be identified due to their age

Mr Aylett told jurors that police went to arrest Mr Ong-a-Kwie at a hostel where he was living and found a knife on top of a fridge in his room.

The prosecutor suggested the murder weapon itself may have been disposed of but the presence of another blade was "not without significance".

The court heard officers continued their search for Mr Ong-a-Kwie and he was arrested at another address in Dagenham where the defendant allegedly told police: "Murder? I ain't done a murder."

The 17-year-old defendant was also arrested in the back garden of the house.

The trial continues.

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