Youth cleared of attempted murder but reluctant witness is locked up
A TEENAGER accused of attempted murder walked free from court while his friend was locked up for refusing to give evidence against him at his trial.
It was alleged Nile Burke stabbed Dulani Simpson when they tussled in Pak Butcher's in Stapleton Road, Easton.
Mr Simpson suffered massive bleeding and near-fatal internal injuries, Bristol Crown Court heard.
Mr Burke, 19, of Little Brook, Trowbridge, denied attempted murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in June last year.
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After the case was opened to the jury, key prosecution witness Raymond White, who was with Mr Burke on the day, refused to testify.
Two Pakistani butchers present at the shop, who spoke little English and were too apprehensive to give evidence in court, produced conflicting statements which didn't tally with the Crown's case.
The Recorder of Bristol His Honour Judge Neil Ford QC ruled that, because of the "extremely difficult" nature of the case, he would not permit hearsay evidence to be used by the prosecution and had therefore gave a termination ruling for the trial. The judge directed the jury to acquit Mr Burke of both counts and he was cleared of wrongdoing.
The court's attention then turned to 20-year-old White, who pleaded guilty to contempt of court by refusing to give evidence on May 23.
The judge sentenced him to six months' youth custody.
He told White: "It was your duty to testify in a case of this seriousness. The contempt was blatant. Your reason was you would be testifying against a friend, which is not a valid explanation. The effect on the trial is that your's was essential evidence from the prosecution's standpoint."
The judge commended police work in the case, especially their "painstaking" analysis of CCTV footage tracking involved parties.
Robert Duval, opening the case for the prosecution, told the jury a verbal confrontation escalated into violence and culminated in Mr Simpson being stabbed in the chest and hip area.
He told the court: "Immediately after the two wounds Mr Simpson collapsed to the floor, bleeding profusely.
"Emergency services were called and within minutes police and paramedics arrived at the scene and provided emergency treatment."
Mr Simpson was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary within an hour of being stabbed and was seen by specialist registrar Dinendra Gillcorr.
He was having difficulty breathing and had an elevated heart rate and extremely low blood pressure.
He had 670 millilitres of blood drained from his chest and underwent complex surgery which included removal of a damaged section of lung and repair to nerve damage.
Mr Duval showed the CCTV footage charting four men walking to the shop.
Mr Duval said an arm which cameras detected poking from the shopwas the victim holding a can of tuna and "gesticulating" moments before the incident.
The following day White was arrested and told police he had spoken to Mr Burke whilst playing a fruit machine in the bookies, and had followed when he left.
White described how, at the shop, violence flared when Mr Simpson invited Burke into the butcher's and hit him with a tin of food before they exchanged blows.