'I did not want to go to jail for life' says man jointly accused of Lee Pettite murder

A MURDER accused has told of his panic after being told another man had been shot following a planned fight.

Gordon ‘Blue’ Smith described seeing Christopher Stubbs – who he referred to as ‘Chrissy’ – run after the victim Lee Pettite and, after losing sight of them, said he heard a noise “like a wheelie bin falling over”.

Smith, 23, said he then encountered Stubbs, who has admitted murder, on a path as he walked towards him.

He said Stubbs told him: “I think have shot him.”

Smith was asked by his barrister Robert Woodcock if Stubbs had a weapon and said not that he could see.

He went on: “I said ‘What the f*** do you mean you have shot him?’”

Asked by Mr Woodcock how he was feeling at that point, the defendant said: “I was panicking. I turned around and started to jog off. I did not want to be there.”

The Northern Echo:

Luke Lovell, who denies Lee Pettite’s murder and like co-accused Gordon Smith is on trial at Teesside Crown Court. Picture: KATIE LUNN

Smith said the duo then met with his co-accused, 22-year-old Luke Lovell, who he said was screaming at Stubbs: “What did I f****** tell you?”

Smith said he was very frightened, adding: “I did not want to go to jail for the rest of my life. I was always told that you only had to be there…to be done for joint enterprise.”

The defendant described twice visiting Mr Pettite’s home in Eston, near Middlesbrough, on the day of his death on March 1 this year in the Bankfields area of town.

However he repeatedly denied any weapons being present.

Smith, 23, of Laburnum Road, Teesville, Middlesbrough, said he did not know what the fight involving Stubbs and Mr Pettite was about, but was later told by ‘Chrissy’ that the victim had been causing trouble between him and his girlfriend.

In his evidence on Monday, Lovell, of Wilton Way, Eston, who like Smith denies murder, said he was only present at the scene to try to stop Stubbs from “doing anything daft that would ruin all our lives”.

He described hearing a bang, but did not see the fatal shooting, adding: “I didn’t expect this to happen”.

The Crown’s case is that all three men pursued 22-year-old Mr Pettite, who had served time in prison for robbery, in a “targeted, persistent and planned attack”.

He was shot by Stubbs through the back with a rifle as he was running away – the bullet entering his lung – and died of massive blood loss despite efforts to save him.

Stubbs, 21, of Tyne Street, South Bank, near Middlesbrough, will be sentenced at the conclusion of the trial.

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