Published: 16:47, 04 October 2006
A NIGHT out with friends ended in tragedy for a young man when he was “deliberately rammed” in the neck with a broken beer bottle just yards from his front door, a murder trial was told.
Drew Shepherd, 23, had been in the company of his attacker, Lee Bullen, for much of the evening. There had been some friction between the pair but nothing, Maidstone Crown Court heard, “that could justify what happened”.
It is alleged that the two came to blows in Goudhurst Road, Twydall, Gillingham, on February 3.
Prosecutor Jonathan Higgs told the jury they would hear varying accounts of what happened from a friend of Bullen’s, Mr Shepherd’s girlfriend Lise Carde and several neighbours who were alerted by shouts and screams.
Mr Shepherd, Miss Carde and pal Steven Lapping had spent the evening in the Hop and Vine pub. Also there was 21-year-old Bullen, mutual friend Jon Towers and their girlfriends. Mr Higgs said that many of those involved that night had been drinking and taking cannabis and cocaine.
Both groups ended the evening at the girlfriends’ house in Salisbury Road, Chatham, before Mr Towers drove Mr Shepherd and his friends home.
The court heard Mr Shepherd sat in the back of the Peugeot 206 with Miss Carde and Bullen, who was drinking from a bottle of Budweiser. Mr Lapping was the front seat passenger and was dropped off first.
Once in Goudhurst Road, Bullen got out to let Mr Shepherd and Miss Carde out. All of a sudden violence erupted and during the brawl Bullen swung the bottle, smashing it against the left side of Mr Shepherd’s head.
But the jury was told this was not the fatal injury. “It is quite plain that at some point what must have been a broken bottle has struck the neck, not the face, of Mr Shepherd,” said Mr Higgs.
He explained that Mr Shepherd’s neck wound was the same size in terms of circumference as a Budweiser bottle. Several fragments of glass were recovered from the scene, some bloodstained, others not.
“The injury was caused by the bottle going in at right angles or, at least, with its end causing those marks. The fit is exact,” added Mr Higgs.
“That injury can only have been caused by a bottle that was already broken. You could not cause those injuries by striking in whatever way with an unbroken bottle and it breaking on impact.”
Mr Higgs continued that the jury had before them “a picture of drink and drugs” with two young men getting into a fight. “But what you also have is a picture from a number of sources suggesting the fight was continued by Lee Bullen, who used the bottle in his hand and used it not only when it was unbroken but broke it presumably against Mr Shepherd and then rammed it into the side of his neck causing that fatal injury.”
Bullen, who has admitted manslaughter but denies murder, was arrested within a few hours at the house in Salisbury Road.
Police found two pairs of blood-stained trainers, heavily blood-stained clothing, blood on an armchair and a bath filled with water which had been used to clean up.
Bullen, of Heritage Drive, Gillingham, initially lied to the police about arming himself with a bottle. First he claimed to have left a beer bottle outside the house before getting in the Peugeot. Then in a second interview he maintained he did not have a bottle with him but had heard “something smashing in the area”.
It was only when the police starting putting their evidence before him, the court heard, that Bullen began to reveal “what was nearer the truth,” said Mr Higgs.
“He accepted he had been a bit flirty with Lise Carde and might well have provoked Mr Shepherd in some way and, after a great deal of prevarication he admitted he did have a bottle in the car and may have had it in the fight.
“He was quite vague as to how he might have used it and vague as to the details of the fight. Was that vagueness because he couldn’t remember or because he didn’t want to say what happened?
“But what he did say was: “I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I didn’t realise how far it had gone. I just wish it never happened. I was just drunk.”
Mr Higgs said that to prove murder the jury would have to decide that when Bullen attacked Mr Shepherd with the bottle he intended to either kill or cause him really serious harm.
“We say it must have been inflicted by a deliberate second use of an already broken bottle rammed into someone’s neck. If that is the case that is clear evidence that at the time he did that, at the very least he intended to cause really serious injury.”
The trial continues.