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George Knights on trial accused of killing dad Stephen Chapman in Rochester says he felt threatened by victim

A Rochester teenager accused of murdering a 38-year-old man has described how he felt threatened by the victim in the weeks before his death.

George Knights, 19, gave evidence to Maidstone Crown Court for the first time today and said Stephen Chapman sent an 'enforcer' around to his house, before he was killed.

Stephen Chapman's body was found in a fetal position, upside down in a wheelie bin and doused with sulphuric acid, the court heard
Stephen Chapman's body was found in a fetal position, upside down in a wheelie bin and doused with sulphuric acid, the court heard

Warning: There are details in this story some readers may find distressing

Knights also explained how he had saved around £25,000 in cash through selling steroids, drugs and amphetemine, which he had made into pills using a pill-press machine, and hoped to use the money to start trading on the stock market.

Both the machine and the money had been kept at his father’s home in Delce Road, the same location where Mr Chapman was found dead in a wheelie bin outside the house, his body disfigured by acid in October last year.

Questioned by defence barrister Gillian Jones QC, Knights told the court and Judge Philip Statman how he had been introduced to Stephen Chapman, who he knew as ‘Ginge’ in late 2019, and started buying drugs from him.

“I thought he was much older than me; about 40,” he recalled of the first meeting. “He was an inch or two shorter than me but he was quite a big guy.

“I’m about 6ft.”

He said they would meet up in Maidstone, Chatham or Rochester and usually sit in the car.

“We would talk about all the criminal things that he had done and connections he had. He would boast about stuff that he had done.

"A common thing he told me was that he had stabbed a couple of people and that he was involved in something with kebab shop owners - it had something to do with teenage girls. He said he had robbed houses, shops and he said that he had a line which means that he sold in Peckham and Greenwich.

George Knights, 19, is accused of murdering Stephen 'Ginger' Chapman
George Knights, 19, is accused of murdering Stephen 'Ginger' Chapman

“He likes to run the conversation and he liked to talk about himself.”

He explained that at the start of summer 2020 he had told Mr Chapman that he didn’t want to sell cocaine for him any more but that he had been told ‘that wasn’t an option.’

He added: “He sent an enforcer around to my house. The guy came round at the start of September. I purchased cocaine from someone else while he was in Cornwall and I didn’t know they were connected.

"He sent someone that called himself K round to my house. He was bigger than me and he was taller than me. He was bald, he was wearing a navy tracksuit and a beard.

"He told me I had purchased from this other person. He said he better not find out that I purchased from anyone else. He said I should start thinking about selling hard food, which I knew to be crack and heroin.”

Knights said he was shocked but didn’t speak to anyone else about it.

“I felt I was trapped because K was a scary individual. I was just shocked that Ginger had sent someone round to my house.”

After that he had purchased cocaine again from Mr Chapman, he said, but two weeks prior to the incident, K had turned up at his house again.

“He came round and said I needed to start selling hard food for them again. I tried to explain my stock trading to him but he thought it was a joke.

“He pushed me against the wall and punched me in the stomach and winded me. He tried to put his hand around my throat but I was shouting at him to leave so he left.

Officers were seen at the junction of Delce Road and Foord Street on the day Mr Chapman's body was found
Officers were seen at the junction of Delce Road and Foord Street on the day Mr Chapman's body was found

“There was nobody else at home,” he added. “I felt like Ginger was really trying to take advantage of me. After the second incident it was like I didn’t want to be at home any more. I felt in danger and I felt like he could do this whenever he wanted to do it.”

By this time Knights explained that he had started inviting people back to the house, as he felt safer with company, but that his relationship with his father had deteriorated as a result.

He described his behaviour as “appalling”, adding “it was rude and it wasn’t considerate of his feelings and him having to go out to work. I don’t think I was thinking about it at the time, I was trying to make sure I felt comfortable. I preferred having someone there with me.”

Earlier Knights had recalled how he was brought up in Kingston, London, then moved to Cornwall where he’d lived for four years before moving to live with his father in 44 Delce Road, three years prior to his arrest.

During lockdown he’d moved in with a friend who had a gym at their house, in order to carry on training, but had moved back in with his father prior to the incident.

Knights is on trial accused of murdering Mr Chapman at Maidstone Crown Court
Knights is on trial accused of murdering Mr Chapman at Maidstone Crown Court

He’d been taking prescribed medication for anxiety for two years and his father had paid for him to see a psychiatrist in Harley Street, as he suffered from social anxiety and panic attacks.

At the age of 16 he said he had joined Nuffield Health, lying about his age so he could use gym equipment without being accompanied by an adult and subsequently begun using steroids to improve his performance.

He’d also taken the amphetamine adderall as he believed it helped with ADHD, helped him concentrate on research for trading, and gave him energy for the gym.

Read more from this trial

He’d also taken Xanax for anxiety, used cannabis recreationally and taken cocaine and ecstasy on nights out with friends.

For a period of time he had attempted but failed to synthesise adderall himself, before ordering powder on the ‘deep web’, which he then pressed into tablets with his own pill-press in order to sell them.

“I wanted to save up enough to start trading,” he explained. “I had left school before getting GCSEs so I thought being self employed was the only option for me.”

The trial continues.

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