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HATTON MURDER TRIAL: Victim had no 'defensive' injuries

Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

He was arrested when the police arrived at Mr Cornet’s home in Blackwell Lane, Hatton Park, after his girlfriend called 999 following an incident on the patio at shortly after 11pm.

Neighbours later said they had heard arguing from the house, where Merrilees, his girlfriend, his mother Stephanie Merrilees and Mr Cornet had been drinking that Saturday evening.

Mr Cornet had suffered three stab wounds to his chest, one of which had penetrated his heart, and he was treated by paramedics before being rushed to hospital, where he died in the early hours of the morning.

Pathologist Dr Olaf Biedrzycki said he believed one of the stabs was responsible for both injuries to Mr Cornet’s heart, going in to a depth of about 8cm and causing both an entry wound and an exit wound.

Asked about the force needed, he said pathologists use a three-point scale of force – mild, moderate and severe.

Of the three wounds to Mr Cornet’s chest, he said: “Stab wound one has passed through the breastbone, a significant bone with a significant degree of resistance, so it is fair to say this was a wound with severe force.”

Of the other two wounds, which had passed between the ribs, he commented: “We would have to say a moderate force was used, but we can’t go further.”

And he continued: “To have three wounds with very similar orientation and close together suggests two things; either the person who has received the wounds is in some way incapacitated, or the wounds have been inflicted in rapid succession.”

Dr Biedrzycki said he found no defensive injuries to Mr Cornet’s arms or hands.

He continued that he had seen photographs showing that Merrilees had some ‘red graze-like marks’ to his neck, as well as to his collarbone and shoulder blade.

Asked whether he had considered whether those could have been caused by Mr Cornet grabbing the defendant by the neck, he replied: “They’re not typical of manual strangulation, when one would expect to see a number of oval bruising from the fingers.”

Prosecutor Kate Brunner QC asked: “Do you rule out that the deceased grabbed the defendant round the neck?”

Dr Biedrzycki responded: “No I don’t.”

Merrilees had left the house after the stabbing, but returned a few minutes later and was arrested on suspicion of unlawful wounding and taken to Leamington police station.

As he was recorded being booked in, an officer told the custody sergeant: “Jack was identified as being responsible for putting the knife in the chest of the victim.”

The sergeant was also told: “Early indications are that the victim came at them with a knife.”

But the jury heard that Merrilees interjected: “That’s not the true situation.”

And when the officer, who had taken him to the police station, said the weapon had not been found, Merrilees told them: “I just dropped it straight away. I think it’s in the garden. I was just so scared.”

Miss Brunner said that Merrilees was interviewed twice later that day and again the following day.

“He was asked about a wide range of topics, including any history he had with Edward Cornet and the events before any violence broke out, how the violence started, what happened, whether he had a knife, and the circumstances of the violence.

“He answered ‘no comment’ to all of those questions,” the jury was told.

The trial continues.

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