A group of men who are alleged to have fatally stabbed and robbed a father-of-one “mocked” and “ridiculed” him as he lay dying, a court has been told.
Ryan O’Connor, 26, from Alway, Newport, died from stab wounds minutes after being attacked on Aberthaw roundabout at around 9pm on Thursday June 10.
Lewis Aquilina, 20, Elliott Fiteni, 20, Kyle Rasis, 18, Ethan Strickland, 19, and Joseph Jeremy, 17, all from Cardiff, are accused of Mr O’Connor’s murder, manslaughter and robbery.
Michael Brady QC, prosecuting, told a trial at Newport Crown Court that Mr O’Connor’s death was a “murder that arose out of a robbery” and that all five defendants were responsible.
He said that according to witnesses, after two or more of the defendants had stabbed Mr O’Connor using large, machete-like knives – one of the wounds piercing his heart – the men drove off at speed, laughing as they went.
Mr Brady told the jury: “All five travelled from Cardiff to Newport in a Ford Fiesta stolen in the early hours of the same day, and on seeing Mr O’Connor wearing a Gucci man bag decided to rob him.
“At least two defendants left the car armed with newly bought knives used to attack and kill Mr O’Connor.
“The driver of the car was unfamiliar with the area and he drove up Vaughan Williams Drive, a cul-de-sac. They then had to turn around and drive back past the fatally wounded Mr O’Connor who was being tended to by members of the public.
“The driver slowed the car down, not out of any concern for Mr O’Connor, but to mock and ridicule him. Laughter was heard coming from within.”
The prosecution said one of the witnesses to be called in the trial would be a woman whose flat overlooked the roundabout and who went to help Mr O’Connor after witnessing the attack from her window.
Mr Brady said the woman would say she heard the men laughing as they drove past and shouted at them that they were “disgusting”.
People in the area made a note of the stolen car’s registration number and 45 minutes later police began a high-speed pursuit of the men after the driver refused to stop, the prosecution added.
The jury was told the officers deployed a stinger to deflate the car’s tyres and the men crashed in Pentwyn, Cardiff. The men then fled but were arrested after a foot chase.
Jeremy, the youngest defendant, was said to have tried to live-stream his arrest, the prosecution added.
The jury was told they would be played footage recorded on Jeremy’s phone taken while the men were in the car.
They were shown photos of the teenager with Rasis and Strickland posing with knives said to be “identical” to those used to kill Mr O’Connor prior to the attack. Mr Brady said telephone evidence revealed the three had a “significant interest in bladed weapons”.
Forensic evidence was said to link Jeremy to one of the knives as well as to a cigarette found inside the stolen Gucci bag. Meanwhile Rasis, it was said, could be linked to the second knife discovered in the car, while Mr O’Connor’s blood was found on Aquilina’s trousers and right trainer.
Mr Brady said there was no evidence to suggest the defendants knew Mr O’Connor, but the prosecution believed they travelled to Newport to commit crime and on seeing Mr O’Connor, decided to rob him.
He said: “The Crown cannot say whether that was the plan, or it was agreed en route, but what is clear is the defendants left Cardiff armed with three knives and travelled in a stolen car on cloned number plates.
“They were in possession of gloves and balaclavas in the middle of June and all defendants were aware of the knives. They would have been very large and conspicuous in a car containing five men.
“Once they chose their target, Mr O’Connor was dealt with swiftly and brutally.”
Mr O’Connor’s injuries included a 13cm stab wound that pierced his lung and heart and damaged two rib bones. He received another deep wound through his right back muscles and slash wounds to his hands, suffering significant blood loss.
The barrister said he anticipated the defendants would all admit to being in the car but deny being the ones who got out of the car and attacked Mr O’Connor, but that the prosecution intended to prove all five were “jointly” guilty.
The trial will not sit on Thursday, and on Friday the jury will be taken on a site visit to the area in Alway where Mr O’Connor was attacked and died. The trial is expected to last between six and eight weeks.