The father of Steven Willis is continuing to give evidence at the trial of five men accused of killing his son.
John Pickering has described events at the funeral wake leading to the street fight that ended in Mr Willis’ death.
Our live coverage has in-depth details from court here, but we’ve summarised the opening of John Pickering’s evidence below:
• John Pickering has told the court he didn’t get on with his sister, Susan Ibitson, rarely had contact with his brother Andrew, or his nephews Mark and Dominic Pickering and Kieran Ibitson.
• On April 16 John Pickering attended his aunt’s funeral before going to the wake at Teesside Bridge Social Club with his children, Steven Willis and Lennon Pickering.
• At the wake John Pickering exchanged blows with Mark Pickering, before Susan Ibitson “attacked” him outside, “punching him” in the back of the head. John Pickering reacted. He slapped her with an open hand with “enough force to stop being an irritant”. He says she then “went hyper-dramatic” on the floor with hands and feet in the air saying “he’s hit me”.
• After leaving the wake, John Pickering told his sons he would have a “straightener” with Mark Pickering if he came to their home.
• Provocative text messages were sent before Steven Willis collected a samurai sword from the garage. John Pickering told the court he told his son to put it back as weapons wouldn’t be needed. “We do it with our fists,” he said. The five accused arrived on Meadowcroft Road. John Pickering said: “I just knew it was them straight away. So I took my top off and I ran out.”
• John Pickering said Dominic Pickering got out of the car first, clapped his hands and said: “wait and see what we’ve got for you here”. John Pickering said he was “fixated” on Mark Pickering and didn’t pay attention to what the others were doing. He exchanged blows with Mark before he felt a “body shot” to his side. Kieran Ibitson has admitted stabbing him.
• “I was in and out of consciousness,” John Pickering said. “The adrenaline was flowing through me. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life.” John Pickering told the jury he saw his son have a “tug of war” over the sword. The next time he opened his eyes he saw his son walking towards him getting a “twitching motion”. There was a “frenzy of noise”, Mr Pickering said.
• Steven Willis collapsed in the kitchen and was put into the recovery position before paramedics arrived.
• John Pickering was shown the 13-minute CCTV footage from his home for the first time. The prosecutor Richard Wright QC said: “It’s obviously going to be difficult for you to watch”.
The trial continues. John Pickering will now be cross-examined by defence barristers. You can follow live updates here.
What the prosecution say happened on day Steven Willis died
Funeral wake at Teesside Bridge Club
Members of the extended Pickering family gathered at the North Ormesby club following a funeral.
Prosecutor Richard Wright QC said John Pickering, the father of Steven Willis, fought with his nephew, the defendant Mark Pickering inside the venue.
A “shirtless” John Pickering also had “violent physical contact” with his sister Susan Ibitson, mother of defendant Kieran Ibitson, outside the wake.
John Pickering left and went to his home in Normanby, stopping en route to buy beer.
Search at Jovial Monk pub
Later, defendant Dominic Pickering and another man “searched” the North Ormesby pub for Steven Willis before leaving in a Ford Fiesta, belonging to co-accused Jack Cross.
Change of clothes and another pick-up
The Crown says the men then went to the home of Mark Pickering on College Road, Thorntree, so he could change his clothes.
They went on to collect co-accused Jahmal Weaver, jurors heard.
The prosecution say the five gathered together as “a team” as they planned to go and take on John Pickering and his fearsome reputation.
‘Scene of devastation’ at Meadowcroft Road
Jurors were told how the defendants got out of the car and John Pickering came out of his house “stripped to the waist and ready to fight”.
Kieran Ibitson stabbed John Pickering, an act that “fuelled” further violence.
Steven Willis emerged from the house wielding a samurai sword. He was disarmed by Mark and Dominic Pickering before Ibitson used his weapon again, the court heard.
Prosecutor Mr Wright said: “This time he drove the blade of the knife… through the breastbone of Steven Willis with what must have been considerable force so that the blade penetrated his heart.”
The alleged attackers left Meadowcroft Road and stayed together afterwards.
The prosecution say they first went to Kieran Ibitson’s home on Beresford Crescent, Thorntree.
‘Weapon disposed of at Fleet House’
Kieran Ibitson next went to flats at Fleet House on Cargo Fleet Lane, changed his clothes and disposed of the weapon, the court heard.
It was later recovered by police from another flat in the building, wrapped in a towel bearing Jahmal Weaver’s DNA.
First police interviews
As word filtered out that Mr Willis had died and a murder investigation was under way, the men surrendered or were arrested.
They were each interviewed by police.
Dominic Pickering, 23, of Grinkle Avenue, Park End; his brother Mark Pickering, 32, of Greenham Close, Thorntree; Cross, 21, of Olney Walk, Park End; Weaver, 22, of Rounton Green, Berwick Hills; and Ibitson, 21, of Beresford Crescent, Thorntree all deny the murder and manslaughter of Mr Willis.