Brentwood murder accused 'didn't want' the police involved, trial hears

Frankie Watson on trial for murder of Romford boys

Frankie Watson stands accused of murder, after Charlie Preston and Frankie Gater were killed in Regency Court in the early hours of October 24, 2021 - Credit: Essex Police

A man on trial for the murder of two Romford teenagers did not call the police because his brain was "completely and utterly scrambled", a court has heard.

Frankie Watson, 20, of Baker Street, Orsett, is accused of murdering 16-year-old Romford boys Charlie Preston and Frankie Gater in Regency Court in the early hours of October 24, 2021.

Watson is also accused of seriously hurting a third boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The 20-year-old denies two counts of murder, two counts of manslaughter, one of wounding with intent and one of having a bladed article.

Trial proceedings officially got under way at Basildon Crown Court on June 28, with Watson cross-examined by prosecutor Lisa Wilding QC on July 7 and 8.

The prosecution's case is that "an explosion of violence" resulted in Watson stabbing three people "a total of 12 times", and that he did not call the police due to his crimes.

During questioning, Watson described carrying a knife as a "safety blanket" which helps him feel less anxious in certain situations.

While Ms Wilding QC claimed the defendant was "overplaying" these feelings to “justify his possession of a knife”, she queried why - given the context - he did not run to the car park as quickly as possible.

Arguing that this would have been the "sensible thing to do", the QC asked: “You were hanging back deliberately, weren’t you?"

“You wanted to encounter them again?," she probed.

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Watson denied both claims.

When asked about his knife, the defendant admitted that while he knew it was in his pocket, he wasn't actively thinking about it.

"I just wanted to get away," he said, adding: "If I had any intent to use my knife, I would’ve brandished it by this point."

“Despite the fact that you carried the knife to make yourself feel better if a violent situation arose," Ms Wilding QC disputed.

Watson countered by arguing that the situation is not yet violent; at this point, he is "being chased".

During examination-in-chief, the 20-year-old told jurors that the knife was still in his pocket at the point he turned to face Gater.

Ms Wilding QC argued the contrary, claiming the weapon was already in Watson's hand at that stage.

“That is incorrect," replied Watson, insisting he only drew his knife after wrongly thinking he had been stabbed in the head.

“I was stabbed in the head, that was my thought process, so I reached for my knife."

Arguing the knife was in Watson's hand from the “first moment of engagement” with Gater, Ms Wilding QC claimed he used it "multiple times" with the intention of causing serious harm.

“What had started on the High Street had got you angry, didn’t it Mr Watson?," she asked.

“If I was angry, why would I try to flee?,” answered the defendant, adding: “The emotion of anger doesn’t align with someone who’s trying to get away, and that’s what I was trying to do."

Watson said he had "no idea" whether he had stabbed anyone because there was blood around his eyes which obscured his vision.

This was from the blow he initially thought to be inflicted by a knife.

"I was just swinging it [the knife] in front of me, out of genuine and utter fear," he told jurors.

Ms Wilding QC queried why the defendant did not "immediately call the police" or ask for help, given that his evidence suggested he felt he was the victim of a crime.

Watson said he did not have a phone to call 999, and that he did not seek help because his "state of mind was all over the place”.

Instead he went to Basildon Hospital, where he told triage nurses that he was assaulted but did not want the police involved.

Asked to explain this, Watson said: "My brain was completely and utterly scrambled."

The prosecutor dismissed this, alleging: "The reason you didn’t want the police to be called is because you were in unlawful possession of a knife that night that you used."

The trial continues.