LUKE Jones, who donned a mask and went with two other armed men to commit a home invasion robbery that ended with a small-time drug dealer being brutally stabbed to death, must have contemplated the possibility that one of the men would use a large machete and cause the 60-year-old victim serious injury, a jury has been told.
Mr Jones, now 25, of Gateshead, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to murder over the death of small-time cannabis dealer Philip Steele at Whitebridge and faced the first day of an estimated two-week trial in Newcastle Supreme Court.
The trial will focus on what happened inside Mr Steele's home when Mr Jones, Jeremy Garvey - who was armed with a 40-centimetre machete - and another man armed with a baseball bat broke in about 2.30am on December 17, 2018.
During his opening address, Crown prosecutor Paul Rosser, QC, said the jury's deliberations would ultimately come down to a number of questions, including whether Mr Jones contemplated the possibility that Garvey wold use the weapon with the intention of at least causing really serious injury to Mr Steele, whether the circumstances changed before they entered the home that made it more likely that the weapon would be used and what Mr Jones did during a chaotic struggle between Garvey and Mr Steele inside the home that ended with Mr Steele being stabbed more than 20 times.
"The prosecution case is that there was an agreement between these three men to go to Mr Steele's home and rob him," Mr Rosser said. "And that is was recognised by the accused, contemplated by him, that there was a possibility that going armed and masked up to the house of someone in the middle of the night might involve the possibility that a weapon would be used and used with serious intent."
Mr Rosser said the "unwitting genesis" of the home invasion was one of Mr Steele's customers, who would often joke that Mr Steele's side business was so good that someone should rob him.
"But it seems he made that joke in front of the wrong person," Mr Rosser said. "That person being a man by the name of Jeremy Garvey."
Garvey and Mr Jones first went to Mr Steele's home in Lonus Avenue about 12 hours before the home invasion. They posed as police officers and stole Mr Steele's wallet and $1000 when he produced his ID.
When Garvey lost his share on the poker machines, Mr Rosser said Garvey and Mr Jones put into place a plan to go back to the home and rob Mr Steele. Mr Jones, who is represented by barrister Philip Massey and solicitor Mark Ramsland, was arrested five days later.
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