Rayon Pennycook murder trial draws to a close as jury prepares to consider evidence against accused teen

'This is the clearest case of self-defence a jury will ever see'

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 6:42 am
Flowers laid at the scene the morning after Rayon's death

A barrister has told a jury in a Corby murder trial that he believes the case against his client was a clear example of self-defence.

The final stages of a Corby murder trial have seen barristers sum up the evidence against a young man accused of killing tragic teen Rayon Pennycook.

Yesterday (Monday, November 29) saw prosecutor Jeremy Benson QC and defence counsel Timothy Clark QC summarise the evidence the 12-strong jury has heard during the two-week trial.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

His Honour Judge David Herbert QC urged the jury to put aside any sympathy or disapproval they may feel for young people who carry knives when considering their verdicts.

He said that in order to find him guilty of murder, they must be sure that the 17-year-old defendant, who cannot be named, intended to cause death or 'really serious injury' to Rayon, 16, who died of a single stab wound to his chest which severed the main vein to his heart causing him to bleed to death.

Judge Herbert added: "There's no doubt the stab wound was caused by the defendant.

"He denies he caused the injury unlawfully. The defence case is that he acted in lawful self-defence. It's for the prosecution to prove he was not acting in lawful self-defence.

"The law is one of common sense. If someone is under attack or believes someone likely will be attacked, he's entitled to defend himself as long as he uses no more than reasonable self-defence.

"The defence case is that he was under attack from Rayon Pennycook who was the aggressor from the start.

"He approached them with a knife and the defendant took out his own knife and stabbed Rayon once in order to defend himself.

"The prosecution accepts that Rayon was the initial aggressor and approached the group armed with a knife. However, the prosecution say it was not in self-defence and the defendant took the knife to Reynolds Road and rather than leave the scene, he took out the knife.

"They engaged in a knife fight, each trying to stab the other.

"The prosecution say that deliberately stabbing someone in the chest with a knife was bound to cause really serious injury."

The court has already heard during the two-week trial how, on May 25 this year the defendant's friends ran from the town centre to meet him near his home.

Meanwhile, a girl close to the defendant was being attacked in a garden in Reynolds Road by another girl connected to Rayon Pennycook. The defendant and his friends were seen on CCTV walking towards Reynolds Road in tracksuits with their hoods up.

A neighbour spotted them waiting in the street, before Rayon walked out of one of the homes in Reynolds Road waving a knife around. A knife-fight ensued and Rayon was fatally stabbed in his upper-right chest.

He managed to get back into the house while the defendant and his friends left the scene. Despite heroic attempts to save his life by PC Alex Prentice, Rayon died on the scene.

The accused then went to Pure Gym to get changed. At some point he disposed of his clothes, rucksack and the weapon and then returned home to tell his dad what had happened.

His dad took him straight to Weekley Wood Justice Centre in Kettering.

Prosecuting, Jeremy Benson QC, said that the defendant had not given evidence at the trial or called any evidence as to the facts of the case. Nor had he called any witnesses.

He said: "The reason is that the case primarily concerns the defendant's state of mind and and although one can, to a certain extent, draw logical conclusion from the facts: the only person who can give direct evidence on what he was thinking is the defendant himself. He is best-placed to explain what happened rather than his counsel.

"There's no evidence to explain why the defendant behaved in the way he did. Why has he not given evidence? We suggest because he has no answers that would stand up to careful scrutiny.

"The effect of that.. is that there is no reasonable excuse for him having that knife in his possession."

The court was again shown CCTV footage of the group wearing grey and black tracksuits, hoods up, making their way to the scene.

They were also shown a 3d reconstruction of the incident which showed Rayon coming out of the house house in Reynolds Road and towards the group outside, which then gradually moved back to Constable Road where the defendant took out his knife. A neighbour had told the court that the knife was only removed from his rucksack after Rayon had lunged at him.

A friend of the defendant had also earlier told the court that his pal had tried to use the rucksack as a shield to stop Rayon stabbing him.

Many texts and calls were made to and from the defendant's phone during the next hour before he ended up at Pure Gym. He then went home and told his dad what had happened, saying that he had been attacked and had defended himself with a knife, but had not meant to kill Rayon.

Defence barrister Timothy Clark QC said his client had not gone towards Rayon, but towards the girl who was being attacked in the garden.

"There's one person here alone who was the aggressor.

"Rayon Pennycook will be remembered by those who loved him for far more than the final two minutes of his life. There's no doubt he was capable of great things."

He said that all the counsel working on the case were parents.

"We know that being a parent means spending the rest of your life being concerned at the harm that could come to your children. None of us can imagine how much pain his parents are in now. It's important that the family and friends of Rayon know that he's not on trial - the defendant is. The public should know your verdict is not a verdict on Rayon Pennycook.

"This is the clearest case of self defence a jury will ever see. The prosecution cannot prove so you are sure, on the evidence it has called, that my client did not act in self-defence."

He said that it was clear that there was a knife 'epidemic' in this country, adding: "Once a person is under attack, they are able to use reasonable force to defend themselves.

"The law does not require a person under attack only to use those items to hand that they're carrying lawfully. It you're attacked with a knife we submit it's reasonable to respond with a knife. There's no duty in law for a person under attack to retreat. There are different ways people react. Some flee, some fight.

"Rayon attempted to use the weapon to maim and injure the defendant from the get go."

Neighbours described the knife as 'very large', saying it could have been a machete.

One told the court Rayon was giving it a 'damn good go'.

The defendant is charged with murder, an alternative count of manslaughter, and illegal possession of a knife. The trial continues.