FOUR young men have appeared at Warwick Crown Court over the killing of young Coventry man Emmanuel Lukenga – and the judge was told a fifth person is facing related charges.
As a result, what had been expected to be a three-week trial will now last up to six weeks either side of the Christmas and New Year break.
The case follows the death of 21-year-old Emmanuel on June 12 after he was allegedly chased by a group of young men, including two on a motorbike, in Tile Hill, Coventry.
He was stabbed to the upper leg in the garden of a house in Franklin Grove, suffering a serious injury from which he was pronounced dead at the scene following the arrival of paramedics.
At a hearing at the court in July, Enroy Ruddock (18) of Melbourne Road, Coventry, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Lukenga.
Just a week later Matthew Brankin (19) of Thimber Road, Canley, and Kyle Kinchen (18) of John Rous Avenue, Coventry, appeared at the court for a preliminary hearing after also being charged with murder.
On that occasion their case was adjourned for them to appear at the court with Ruddock.
And at that latest hearing, the three of them were joined in the dock by Bradley Richardson (23) of Prior Deram Walk, Canley, who faces charges of murder and arson in relation to a car said to have been connected to the case.
And prosecutor James Curtis QC revealed: “There is due to be a fifth defendant who has been charged with the handling of the motorcycle and perverting the course of justice by lying to the police and disguising the motorcycle.”
Asking for an adjournment until late September, he said that person, having been charged, is due to go before magistrates before being sent to the crown court to join the other four.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC pointed out that the trial had been listed to begin on December 2, with a time estimate of three weeks, and had been expected to finish before Christmas.
Mr Curtis said that, with more defendants, it was now expected to take five to six weeks, so would have to continue after a break in the middle for Christmas and the New Year.
Judge Lockhart pointed out that he had been due to hear another murder trial, also with five defendants, at the beginning of January.
“That may have to go to another judge or elsewhere, so I want an assurance that this trial will be fit to start on the 2nd of December.”
And Mr Curtis responded: “As far as the Crown are concerned, yes.”
He adjourned the case until September 27, when it is expected Brankin, Kinchen, Richardson and the fifth man will have the charges they face put to them.
There were no applications for bail for any of the four in the dock, and Judge Lockhart remanded them all in custody.
At an earlier hearing Peter Grieves-Smith, for the prosecution, pointed out: “One of the things which will have to be considered is that there are 127 separate items of CCTV which will have to be reviewed.
“This is a complex investigation, investigating the facts just prior to the offence and also after the offence.”