Steven Jones, 24, of no fixed address but from Netherley, Liverpool, has been found guilty of the murder of Brandon Regan
A drug dealer who stabbed a teenager to death because he stole his scooter has been found guilty of murder.
Steven Jones, 24, knifed 17-year-old Brandon Regan four times – thrusting the blade so hard into the victim’s back that he broke a rib.
Mr Regan managed to flee and climbed over a wall into the back garden of a home on Critchley Road in Speke, Liverpool, where he collapsed.
He died alone in a pool of blood and his body was only found when a woman looked out of her kitchen window the following morning.
Jones, and his accomplice Lewis Gibbons, who prosecutors said brought a meat cleaver and axe to the scene, were convicted of murder.
Their friend Jack Butterworth, who rammed Mr Regan off the scooter in his Audi A4, was cleared of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter.
A jury returned the unanimous verdicts yesterday after four hours and 22 minutes of deliberation, following a 17-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
Mr Regan’s family and friends sobbed in the public gallery, with his mum and others leaving the courtroom and one person shouting ‘rats’.
Cocaine and cannabis dealer Jones and ex-Scania worker Butterworth, 22, showed no emotion, while Gibbons looked shocked and close to tears.
Brandon Regan, 17, who was murdered in Speke, Liverpool, after hotwiring Jones’ scooter outside of his home, despite being warned by friends he could get ‘battered’
Gibbons, 26, shook his head before leaving the dock with Butterworth, while Jones remained, staring at some of Mr Regan’s family members.
After they had left, he told his family including the young mum of his two-year-old child ‘not to worry’, as they said they loved him.
The jury heard how Mr Regan, a ‘small-time cannabis dealer’, hotwired Jones’s bike outside his flat in Millwood Court on January 28 last year, despite being warned by friends he could get ‘battered’.
Prosecutors alleged Jones, plus Butterworth, Gibbons, and Ryan Buckley, 33, chased after him in Butterworth’s black Audi at 9.47pm.
Accomplice Lewis Gibbons, 26, who prosecutors say brought a meat cleaver and an axe to the scene was also convicted of murder. Jack Butterworth, 22, was convicted of manslaughter for ramming Mr Regan off of the scooter
They said Butterworth collided with the 50cc moped in Critchley Road, knocking Brandon off, before Jones and Gibbons got out of the car.
Jones, of no fixed address but from Netherley, Liverpool, claimed he found a knife on the ground near the bike and acted in self-defence when Brandon ‘rugby tackled’ him in a nearby garden.
But Jones did not suffer any injuries and a witness had heard him shout from the Audi: ‘I’m going to f*****g batter you, I’m going to f*****g kill you.’
Jones stabbed Mr Regan in the back, his left elbow, right buttock and right thigh – the latter injury cutting a large vein and causing extensive bleeding.
The stolen scooter Brandon Regan, 17, was riding on on the evening he was murdered after being rammed off by Jack Butterworth
He told the jury he was ‘really sorry’ but Mr Regan tried to wrestle him to the ground and ‘I thought I was going to be severely attacked on the floor’.
Jones suggested he tried to stab the teen in the legs ‘as hard as I could because I was scared’ and stabbed ‘with everything I could’ to get him off.
But Nigel Power, QC, prosecuting, said: ‘Brandon Regan did nothing at all even to suggest that he was armed and that is because he wasn’t armed.
‘Steven Jones suffered no injury. He was never struck a single blow.
Mr Regan’s family and friends sobbed in the public gallery, with his mum Julie (pictured) and others leaving the courtroom and one person shouting ‘rats’
‘He stabbed Brandon Regan with a knife four times, in his own evidence as hard as he possibly could, and the final blow in the middle of the back broke the rib…
‘All of that is agreed. Self defence doesn’t even get started. It doesn’t get out of the blocks.’
When police retrieved the scooter from an alleyway the next day, bearing Jones’s DNA, they also found an axe and a meat cleaver, bearing DNA matching Gibbons.
Prosecutors said neither of these was the murder weapon, but claimed they showed everyone in the car went out with weapons, and Gibbons joined Jones in the alley.
Gibbons, of Holland Road in Halewood, Merseyside, questioned both this DNA evidence and mobile phone cell site data, said to place him at the murder scene.
He offered no explanation for how his DNA found its way onto the two weapons, but claimed it must have been ‘innocent secondary transfer’.
Butterworth, of Finsbury Park in Widnes, Cheshire, accepted driving, but said the crash was accidental and he never intended anyone any harm or got out the car.
Police investigator at the scene on Heathgate Avenue following the murder of Brandon Regan
He admitted assisting an offender – going back to the scene to collect a plastic sheet – and perverting the course of justice by ordering a new grille for his Audi, using false details.
Mr Power said Jones – who bought the bike for £300 when it was originally stolen – contacted a friend of Mr Regan’s after the killing and said: ‘We got your boy.’
He demanded £300, then rang another pal of the victim, pretending he wanted cannabis and to know where Mr Regan was, before claiming ‘he’s in front of me now squirting up blood, we just caught him trying to get the moped’.
When arrested, Jones and Butterworth all gave statements saying they had ‘nothing to do with the murder’, while Gibbons did not answer any questions.
Jones and Gibbons had both ditched their mobile phones.
Buckley, of Withington Road, Speke, was acquitted of murder just four days into the trial, after prosecutors offered no further evidence against him.
The dad-of-two said he was at home with his girlfriend all evening and the court heard mobile phone cell site data was consistent with his alibi.
He could be seen staring at detectives and grinning when the jury returned a formal ‘not guilty’ verdict in his case.
Judge Alan Conrad, QC, said he needed to consider sentencing carefully and would pass sentence next Wednesday for the other three defendants.