Harwood trial: Accused James Danby said another delivered death blow

Luke Harwood, 18, from Havering

Luke Harwood, 18, from Havering - Credit: Archant

A man accused of killing Harold Hill teen, Luke Harwood, said another person delivered the death blow, a court heard.

James Danby, 27, is said to have led a gang who murdered Luke, 18, after he was branded a rapist.

The Old Bailey heard how Luke, 18, was attacked in a council house, in Crow Lane, Romford, on the day he moved in - and then stamped to death in a field.

Danby is said to have described how he stamped on Luke’s head and allegedly planned to remove the victim’s fingers and teeth to prevent the body being indentified.

But he blamed co-defendant Tony O’Toole for actually killing Luke, last May 27.

“Suddenly and unexpectedly Tony O’Toole kicked and stamped on Luke Harwood’s head,” he told the court.

But Luke’s barrister, Ben Alna, insisted Danby was the true murderer.

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“Your intention was to kill him,” Mr Alna said.

“No, my intention was not,” said Danby.

He denied elbowing Luke in the face on the way to the field, off Broadmead Road, near the Orchard Estate in Woodford Green, or attacking him there.

“After you stamped on his head you boasted about it to everybody,” Mr Alna said.

“No, that is not true,” Danby replied.

He was said to have told another co-defendant, Emma Hall, that he stamped on Luke’s head, inflicting terrible injuries, and then threw him in a river.

“That account we have quite clearly seen, is fabricated,” Danby said.

“You were bragging about stamping on Luke Harwood’s head to anyone who would listen,” Mr Alna said.

“Yes, including my own mother, apparently,” Danby replied sarcastically.

Danby was said to have spoken to his mother about the killing on the phone when he was back at the Romford council flat.

He allegedly told her: “No-one will grass me because they are all in it with me.”

Danby was said to have added: “What do you reckon, should I cut off his fingers and scatter them or cut off his fingers and burn them.”

“My mother would have phoned the police on me if I had told her that,” said Danby.

“My family are law-abiding citizens, not like myself, and they would not condone behaviour like this.”

Danby was said to have told his sister after he killed Luke that he had gone up a criminal league and “joined the A Team.”

“I didn’t say that. It’s a ridiculous notion,” said Danby.

Danby, Hall, 21, O’Toole, 29, and Jovan Roberts, 28, deny murder and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Hall, Danby and O’Toole, along with Duggan, 21, and Khalid Hassan, 20, deny perverting the course of justice.

All the defendants lived at the bungalow in Crow Lane, Romford, except Roberts, who is of no fixed address.