Stefan Appleton murder trial: Teen ‘admits machete stabbing but claims self-defence’

Stefan Appleton (Picture: Met Police)

Stefan Appleton (Picture: Met Police) - Credit: Archant

Two 17-year-old boys have admitted their part in killing Stefan Appleton, a court heard this afternoon.

Floral tributes were laid in June last year in Caldy Walk, Canonbury, where Stefan Appleton collapse

Floral tributes were laid in June last year in Caldy Walk, Canonbury, where Stefan Appleton collapsed after being stabbed. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Stefan, 17, was stabbed to death with a “zombie killer” machete in Nightingale Park, Canonbury, on June 10 last year.

The two defendants, who cannot be named, deny murder. This afternoon, the Old Bailey heard Defendant Two accepts that he stabbed Stefan - but claims it was done in self-defence.

Defendant One, who transported his co-accused on a moped, denies murder on the basis that he didn’t know anyone would be stabbed.

The court also heard that the two teenagers attempted to flee to Malaga in Spain, but failed when a credit card payment failed.

They, alongside a 16-year-old from Hertfordshire (Defendant Three), also deny a charge of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Simon Deninson told how Defendant Three - who two months prior had been stabbed near to where Stefan was killed - made two phone calls, and three attempted phone calls, to Defendant Two in the 17 minutes before Stefan was stabbed at 5.58pm.

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He said: “We suggest this shows the defendants were working together in a plan - to travel to Nightingale Park and stab someone.”

Just after 6.10pm, Defendants One and Two were later seen dumping the moped in Hamilton Park West, Highbury. A group of four males later arrived an hour later, emptying the fuel tank before setting it alight. “This couldn’t have been done without the say-so of Defendants One and Two,” said Mr Deninson.

After travelling to Clerkenwell in a cab, Defendants One and Two came back up north to Holloway, where they visited a friend at around 9.25pm.

Nightingale Park in Canonbury, where Stefan Appleton received a fatal blow to the chest with a mache

Nightingale Park in Canonbury, where Stefan Appleton received a fatal blow to the chest with a machete. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Mr Deninson said: “She met them at the entrance. They were not their normal selves. They didn’t tell her what happened. They asked to burn clothes at the back. Defendant Two gave her the motorbike helmet which she was asked to keep in the house.”

After burning the clothes, they called another cab and travelled to Euston station, stopping off at Defendant One’s home address on the way, the court heard. The teenagers travelled by Tube to Victoria, from which they got in a cab to Bristol.

Mr Deninson continued: “The next day, on June 11 at 5.20pm, an attempt was made to book an EasyJet flight to Malaga in Defendant Two’s name. It was unsuccessful as the card was declined.” Both of them returned to London.

Meanwhile, the court also heard Defendant Three’s reaction to Stefan’s death on Whatsapp: “Oh my god, that’s f***ed.”

Defendant One was arrested in Enfield on June 13. “Two” was arrested in the early hours of the next morning. “Three” travelled to Ipswich, where he was arrested on June 17.

In police interviews that followed, Defendant Two claimed he had an alibi, that he was playing football in Highbury before visiting friends in City Road.

Mr Deninson said: “He has since abandoned that defence. He accepts he was on the back of the moped and stabbed Stefan Appleton. His defence is that he was acting in self-defence.

“Defendant One now accepts he drove ‘Two’ to the scene. His defence is that he didn’t know that anyone would be stabbed.”

Mr Deninson added: “After the arrest, they were very anxious about their friend in Holloway, where they burned the clothes. In recorded phone calls to associates, both defendants ask them to go to the friend and get the ‘lid’ [crash helmet] they left with her.

“In August, they were telling associates to tell her what should be said if asked by police about that day. She was interviewed as a witness on August 19 and they tried to find out what she said.”

Meanwhile, the court heard Defendant Three was asked about his sudden departure to Ispwich, for which he had no explanation.

The trial continues.