LITTLE HARROWDEN MURDER TRIAL: "It's an easy crime to commit"

Closing arguments get under way in the murder trial following the death of Stevie Pentelow in Little Harrowden last June

By Phoebe Radford
Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 9:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 9:59 am

Stevie Pentelow was killed in a planned attack by seasoned drug dealers who had a history of carrying knives and planned to rob him, the prosecution argued in its closing arguments at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday).

Mr Pentelow, who was 44 at the time, was killed after being stabbed in Little Harrowden on June 21, 2019, where he thought he would sell Sifean Ghilan crack cocaine and heroin worth £1,500 in a deal organised by Sophie Hughes, a drug user who knew both men.

Ghilani was driven to the village by his co-defendant Levar Thomas, and accompanied by the other defendants, Tristan Patel and a 16-year-old boy.

Officers at the scene last June

Mr David Herbert QC, prosecuting for the crown, told the jury: “It doesn’t take four men to collect Sifean Ghilani’s drugs.

“The numbers which they were in the car speak for themselves.

“(Stevie Pentelow) was attacked as soon as he arrived at the car.”

The jury have heard the defence for Tristan Patel argue that Stevie Pentelow threw the first punch after Patel offered a ‘fist-bump’ greeting, but Mr Herbert said to the jury: “He spent most of the day trying to get hold of these drugs.

“That had taken a long time.

“Does it seriously make any sense that he would launch into this unprovoked attack on Tristan Patel?”

Instead, Mr Herbert told the jury: “The drug dealing world is one of dog-eat-dog. It’s all about money.

“Maximising money, maximising profits, buying in bulk and selling in tiny street deals to make as much money as possible. That’s how it works.

“Is it a wonder that people resort to robbing each other? It isn’t. It’s an easy crime to commit.”

Mr Herbert said a robbed drug dealer would not be able to report the crime and that is why they are a target.

Mr Sidhu, representing Levar Thomas, was the first defence counsel to make an opening speech and questioned this, saying: “You don’t kill the golden goose.”

Mr Pentelow had supplied Ghilani with drugs in January and Mr Sidhu said: “You are dealing with someone who has given you drugs before. Someone you know you can rely on with drugs again.

“When you have someone who is reliable, you don’t kill them. When you have someone who is well connected, you don’t cross them.”

Mr Sidhu said to kill such a drug dealer would be in effect “signing your own death warrant”.

Mr Sidhu also told the jury: “Not a single guy tried to rob Stevie Pentelow.”

He said none of the defendants had been described as attempting to rob the victim and added: “If no one robbed him, where does that leave the prosecution?

“If you are going to stab someone in the chest, how much harder is it to put your hand into his pocket?”

Judge Mayo had told the jury the previous day that there is no evidence as to whether Mr Pentelow had drugs on him, or what happened to them.

Mr Sidhu also pointed out that Mr Pentelow’s mobile phone was found at the scene and was also not stolen.

However, Mr Herbert asked the jury: “If (robbery) wasn’t the motive then what was?”

Mr Herbert also questioned why the defendants did not describe what happened in Little Harrowden as a “horrible accident” at the time of their arrests if Stevie Pentelow started the fight, as has been claimed in the trial.

Lee Parry, a drug user who said Tristan Patel sold him Class A drugs and visited him before and after the attack on Stevie Pentelow, told the court that Patel said: “I’ve done something really dumb, I’ve just punched a guy and he’s also been stabbed.”

Mr Herbert asked the jury why Patel would not have mentioned that Mr Pentelow attacked him as he now claims and said: “You would have thought that would be the first thing he said, if that was the case.”

Instead, Mr Herbert said Ghilani and Patel were carrying “the tools of their trade” and had a tendency to do so, as seen in their previous convictions for carrying weapons.

The prosecution claim the weapons were carried as part of a plan that was hatched in a phone call between Sifean Ghilani and Levar Thomas earlier that evening at around 17.43, which Mr Herbert said at almost 11 minutes, was much longer than their usual contact.

The four defendants were then in the car together for almost an hour.

However, Mr Sidhu dismissed the idea that there was a plan to rob Mr Pentelow.

Mr Sidhu asked the jury: “Where is the evidence that Levar Thomas was part of any plan?”

He said any discussion about what was said in the phone call was “speculation”.

Mr Sidhu also asked the jury why Levar Thomas, who was planning to return to France where he played professional football, would use a car registered to him and fitted with a tracker, to take part in a planned robbery.

He also highlighted plans Thomas had made with his girlfriend and mother for that evening.

Mr Sidhu also cited Thomas’ reaction after the incident, also described by Ghilani, when he shouted something to the effect of: “Why the **** did you do that?”

Ghilani also had to instruct Thomas to drive away, Mr Sidhu told the jury.

The trial continues.