Ipswich traveller pitch row 'led to stabbing murders'

Flowers at travellers' site
Image caption Flowers were left in memory of Nathan Oakley and Barry Street, who were both fatally injured

A row over a caravan pitch at a travellers' site led to two men being stabbed to death, a court has heard.

Nelson Smith, who is accused of murder, claims he acted in self-defence, but the Old Bailey heard one victim was stabbed in the back and neck while "running away".

Barry Street, 32, and Nathan Oakley, 18, died in hospital on 8 December.

Mr Smith, 18, of West Meadows caravan site in Ipswich, Suffolk, denies two counts of murder.

He also denies one count of possessing a bladed weapon.

The jury was told Mr Street was described as a "bully" after he smashed a caravan window with a can of Red Bull on the day of the double stabbing.

Stan Smith, the 19-year-old owner of the damaged caravan, had been due to move to a pitch next door to Mr Street, who was using it as a car park at the time, the court heard.

Keren Wright, who managed the traveller site for Norfolk and Suffolk county councils, told the jury the plot had a high turnover and a "pattern" of vandalism before new tenants moved in.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The fatal stabbings followed an incident in which a caravan window was smashed

Mr Street had been given a warning for "bullying" six months earlier, but there had been no recent complaints until the day he died, she said.

The court heard Ms Wright spoke to a group of women at the 43-pitch site that morning, who said he "needs to be evicted from the site, he's a bully" after the Red Bull incident.

When she later spoke to Mr Street, he denied involvement in the incident, the jury were told.

Ms Wright told the court the deaths happened when she was off-site for 25 minutes and she rushed back when she saw police cars with lights flashing.

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The jury were told the row prompted a violent confrontation between the partner of Nelson Smith's father and Mr Street's partner.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said Mr Street's partner saw the defendant stab him in the back.

A post-mortem examination later revealed wounds to Mr Street's neck and back.

Mr Khalil told the court he expected Mr Smith, who was 17 at the time of the stabbings, to say he acted because he was defending one or more members of his family.

He said: "If that account [from Mr Street's partner] is accurate, you might find it difficult to accept that stabbing someone in the back while they are running away is stabbing done in reasonable self-defence."

The trial continues.

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