Date: 20 Feb 2018
Jason Williams was stabbed in the chest.
Two men were tried for his murder but acquitted.
Jason Williams's body was found in an alleyway off Margaret Road in South Ham, at about 1.30am 20 February 2018.
He had lived in St Peter’s Road, Basingstoke.
The two men tried for his murder were:
They were both described as 'crack cocaine addicts'. They were arrested on 21 February 2021.
The trial, which took place at Winchester Crown Court heard that the men had both been in need of Class A drugs but had no money and had arranged to buy drugs from Jason Williams and that one of them met him in the alley and stabbed him and then stole his drugs. The prosecution said that both of the men had planned to rob Jason Williams of both drugs and money.
They were said to have used an illegal drug supply group called Panda from whom they later got a bulk text from saying, 'I’m about Panda', which meant that there were drugs for sale.
The court heard that 34-year-old man had a tracker fitted on his van which showed where he had gone on the day of the murder. He had just started a new job with Nationcare Windows and the police were able to track his movements from the time he left his first day on the new job on 19 February 2018 up until the time he was arrested.
It was said that he had initially made a drug deal at 8pm in the alleyway off Margaret Road after which he had gone home and then later visited various locations before eventually receiving a call from the 37-year-old man to pick him up.
He was said to have then travelled to a post office in Watson Way where the 37-year-old man, who was expecting a benefits payment, tried to use his bank card 16 times to get money out, however, his account was at the time empty.
It was submitted that both of the men had intended to buy more drugs that night and that at 12.10am the 34-year-old man called the Panda network to arrange for another deal.
It was said that after that they went to the home of the 37-year-old man's ex-partner in St Peter’s Road, South Ham where they collected a knife, thought to have been a Radius kitchen knife, that was kept in a fuse box, staying there for only 29 seconds, after which they went to a different location where they had access to the same alleyway that they had used before to make the drug deal.
The prosecution said that the knife, that the 37-year-old man had supplied, was intended to be used for the robbery and to kill or seriously injure Jason Williams.
It was said that they then met Jason Williams who one of them stabbed and that they then ran off and got back in the van after which the 34-year-old man dropped the 37-year-old man back off at his ex-partner's home in St Peter’s Road. The 34-year-old man was said to have then driven to Tobago Close where he used a footpath to get to a lake where he disposed of the knife, throwing it into the lake, after which he drove back home to Edmund Court.
When the men were asked about the 29-second visit to St Peter’s Road the 37-year-old man said that his 'phone was out of charge' and that he had stopped off to get the number for the Panda network.
The court heard that a witness had heard a man scream in the alleyway and had then seen a man jogging off.
It was heard that when the police searched the lake they found the Radius kitchen knife which had Jason Williams's DNA on it. At the trial it was heard that the DNA found on the knife was beyond reasonable doubt Jason Williams's DNA. The Radius kitchen knife was described as 'rare'. The prosecution said, 'Whoever threw that knife in the lake clearly did not want it to be found'.
The prosecution at the trial said, 'If you follow the journey of the knife you are also following the journey of one of the defendants, the 34-year-old man.
It was also heard that the 34-year-old man had owned a pair of Converse boots which had vanished after the night of the murder. The prosecution said, 'Whoever threw that knife in the lake clearly did not want it to be found' and then submitted that it was clear that the 34-year-old man had killed Jason Williams.
At the trial the prosecution accepted that they were not claiming that the 37-year-old man was the man that had stabbed Jason Williams, saying that they were certain that it was the 34-year-old man. The trial heard that there was clear evidence that the 37-year-old man was not at the scene.
However, the 34-year-old denied having killed Jason Williams, saying that he had gone to the alleyway to make the deal but had been scared off by 'four geezers'. He said, 'I thought it might be undercover police or something and I didn’t want to get caught'.
He said that when he got back to the van he told the 37-year-old man what he had seen and said that the 37-year-old man said that it must have been two certain people, adding, 'I asked who are they and he said they go around robbing drug dealers'.
It was heard that the 37-year-old man had been in the van the whole time.
His defence also noted that there was no blood found in the van or on his clothing but the prosecution noted that if he had not got blood on his footwear or clothing then he would not have transported it into the van.
The 34-year-old man denied ever having met Jason Williams. He said that the man that he had met in the alleyway earlier on had been black and when he was shown a photograph of Jason Williams he said, 'I have never seen him before'.
The 34-year-old man was arrested at a friend’s flat. The friend said that he had known the 34-year-old man for about a year-and-a-half and that he had been coming to his flat for the previous eight months on a regular basis to use crack cocaine. He said, 'His girlfriend didn’t like him taking the drugs at her house'. When the friend was asked how the 34-year-old man behaved after taking the drugs he said, 'A little bit out of it. When people take crack, it changes them and he got a little bit paranoid'. It was heard that the 34-year-old man had gone to his friends flat on 21 February 2018, the day after the murder, and when he was asked whether they discussed the murder, the friend said, 'A very small exchange, and as far as I knew he was unaware of it. He just said it was out of order that had happened'. He said that the 34-year-old man had told him that he had been in the area on the night to score drugs but that when he had gone towards the alley he had seen 'four geezers' there and had run off.
It was heard at the trial that the 34-year-old man had turned to drugs after his daughter was stillborn. He said that he had previously used powder cocaine but had stopped after he had met his partner but that after their child was still born he was introduced to crack cocaine. At the trial he said, 'I pretended that I was strong, but I weren’t and I led me down the wrong path. I started taking cocaine again to block it out'. The court also heard that he had got into the habit of spending all his money on drugs. When he was asked how much he would spend, he said, 'It depends how much I have, if I have £50 I spend that, if I have £10 I spend that'. When he was asked what the most he had spent on drugs was he said, '£1,100 on drugs when I got a tax rebate'.
The two men were acquitted at Winchester Crown Court on 20 July 2018.
When the judge summed up he noted to the jury that they had to be sure that the two men had intended to kill or seriously harm Jason Williams when carrying out the robbery. He added, 'You must come to your verdict without emotion. You might have feelings of disgust or pity for the defendants but you must judge this case on the evidence. You must reach a unanimous verdict'.
The jury deliberated for more than 11 hours before returning their not guilty verdicts on all charges.