Former Leamington man accused of murder in Nuneaton

Court case
Court case

A former Leamington man accused of the murder of Nuneaton father Bradd Darby, who died in hospital of a stab wound following an incident on February 20, has been remanded in custody.

James Norton appeared at Warwick Crown Court charged with the murder of 30-year-old Mr Darby and two charges of wounding two other men arising from the same incident.

Norton, 29, of Toler Road, Nuneaton, but formerly of Grove Street, Leamington, is also alleged to have had an offensive weapon and to have been in possession of a disguised firearm.

Prosecutor Aliya Rashid said Norton had called the police at 6.17 in the morning on February 20, saying he had been attacked by two men.

Later than morning there was a report of a man carrying a knife in Blackatree Road, and the tragic incident then took place at the junction of Barpool Road and Vernons Lane.

Mr Darby was fatally injured, and two other men are also said to have been stabbed.

But Miss Rashid pointed out: “The defendant says he was attacked, and that the other males had the weapons.”

She said that as well as allegedly having a large kitchen knife, Norton is said to have had a torch which had been converted into a Taser-type weapon.

The charges were not put to Norton, but he is expected to plead not guilty, and Miss Rashid said that for the trial there were currently nine ‘civilian witnesses’ and two or three police officers.

David Everett, defending, said: “I think it’s unlikely there will be any other defence witnesses, but there are a number of the prosecution witnesses who will have to be challenged.”

And Judge Andrew Lockhart QC commented: “It is going to need a three- to four-week time estimate. I can see this case expanding enormously.

“My own view is that the trial is going to have to travel unless we fix a date now outside the custody time limit.”

Miss Rashid said Norton’s custody time limit, the period of time, unless it is extended, a person can be held in custody before standing trial, expires on August 24.

The judge observed: “The earliest we could try it at this court is the 24th of September. It will have to be listed somewhere else within the custody time limit, at first blush. It’s likely to be Birmingham.”

He adjourned the case for enquiries to be made to find a venue for the trial, and for a plea and trial preparation hearing to take place on March 23.

And he commented: “That should be at the court which is to hear the trial, so I don’t tie the hands of another judge.”

Told there was no application for bail, Judge Lockhart told Norton: “Your case will come into court somewhere on the 23rd of March.

“We are seeking to find a listing at a court that can hear it before the custody time limit expires. In the meantime, you will be remanded in custody.”