ONE OF five men accused of murdering Coventry teenager Daniel Kirkwood, who died after being stabbed in a night club, has been cleared on the directions of the judge.
The jury in the trial of the men at Warwick Crown Court was told that on the evidence they had heard, defendant Zaker Khan could not be guilty of Daniel’s murder.
He was also acquitted of being involved in wounding two of Daniel’s friends, Nigel Mkhwananzi and Niall Kavanagh with intent to cause them grievous bodily harm.
Khan (25) of Belcher’s Lane, Small Heath, Birmingham, is one of five men who have been on trial accused of 18-year-old Daniel’s murder in the Society night club in Coventry in March last year.
The others are Tobijah Thompson (25) who was living at an address in Towpath Close, Bedworth, at the time; Hasham Ali (19) of Amberley Green, Great Barr; Ramez Murtaza (21) of Bordesley Green East, Bordesley Green; and Ezra Scott (32) of Hawksyard Road, Erdington.
They have also denied wounding Nigel Mkhwananzi and Niall Kavanagh with intent, and all five have denied violent disorder in the club and assaulting a fourth person, Christopher O’Brien.
Prosecutor Michael Burrows QC has said it was alleged that Thompson was the one who actually stabbed Daniel, but the prosecution case was that others ‘shared his murderous intent.’
Thompson is also said to have been responsible for stabbing Mr Mkhwananzi and Mr Kavanagh.
The jury has heard evidence about the incident in the club, which is said to have started when Ali became involved in a confrontation after seeing Christopher O’Brien push a girl to whom Ali had earlier given his number, which was in her phone as H.
“In short, the prosecution say the defendants acted together to attack another group present in the club,” said Mr Burrows.
After hearing evidence for around five weeks, the jury were told they were not required for some days while the judge, Mr Justice Mark Warby, and the barristers carried out what was referred to as ‘a stock-check’ of the case.
And they finally returned to court for just a few minutes on day 30 of the trial.
Mr Justice Warby told them: “The result of the stock-check I spoke about is that I have reached the conclusion that, on the evidence you have seen and heard, Zaker Khan cannot be guilty of counts one, four and five – murder and the two counts of wounding.
“The consequence of that is that there have to be verdicts of not guilty on those counts in relation to him.”
The judge then asked one member of the jury to act as their foreman while the court clerk put to them that, ‘on his Lordship’s directions,’ they found Khan not guilty of those three charges.
The foreman confirmed each of the three verdicts when they were put to her – and the trial was then adjourned for the day.