MURDER TRIAL: Accused ‘met victim by chance on bus the day before his death’

Daniel Baker. Submitted picture.
Daniel Baker. Submitted picture.

The man accused of murdering dad Daniel Baker bumped into him “by chance” on a bus the day before his death, a court has heard.

Leon Lockhart had known Mr Baker from time they spent in prison together and met him unexpectedly on the bus in July last year, the jury at Nottingham Crown Court was told.

But Mr Baker, 32, of Derby, was found collapsed by passers-by in South Normanton the following day and later pronounced dead.

Lockhart, 32, of Carter Lane East, South Normanton, is accused of Mr Baker’s murder and his trial started today. He denies the charge.

Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, told the jury how Mr Baker met Lockhart and his then-girlfriend Michaela Griffiths on the bus on the afternoon of Thursday, July 18.

He said the three spent the day together and Baker slept on the pair’s settee.

Then, on the day of Mr Baker’s death, Mr Joyce said the trio had also spent all day together.

He said all three were spotted on CCTV on Alfreton Road on Friday, July 19 at 9.38pm.

The court heard how Glen Thorpe and Victoria Heath, who had been drinking at a nearby hotel, saw the three at 11pm.

Mr Joyce told the court: “Thorpe and Heath saw Lockhart, Griffiths and Baker walking up Carter Lane West towards Mansfield Road.

“They were within 20 feet of the three. Glen Thorpe recognised Lockhart

“They spoke and there was the passing of a cigarette from one to another.”

Mr Joyce said Ms Heath and Mr Thorpe broke away from the trio to visit a nearby takeaway.

When they found it was shut, they walked back the way they came.

Mr Joyce said: “They had only been away from the other three for a short period of time.

“As they walked back along Mansfield Road, they passed not three but two people coming towards them – Leon Lockhart and Michaela Griffiths.”

The court heard how Ms Heath and Mr Thorpe then found Mr Baker slumped forwards on the pavement of nearby Carter Lane West.

He had a weak pulse and the pair called an ambulance at 11.25pm. Mr Baker was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Mr Joyce said although the murder weapon had never been found, Griffiths hid other knives from her home as well as clothing worn in the 36 hours the trio were together.

He said: “She pleaded guilty to perverting course of justice”

During the first day of the trial, the jury were also shown footage of Mr Baker, Lockhart and Griffiths together.

Mr Joyce said: “After the stabbing, what did the other two do?

“Leon Lockhart and his girlfriend Michaela Griffiths ran away.”

The court heard the pair were arrested separately on July 21.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday morning. It is expected to run until next week.

Keep checking back for updates.