One of the three Liverpool men on trial over the murder of a Rhyl man has told a jury he never chased fellow drug dealers – despite being repeatedly ‘ripped off’.
Anthony Baines (31) of Kensington, who denies killing Mark Mason in the car park of Home Bargains last October, told Mold Crown Court he did not wish the father of two any harm and did not know he had been stabbed until he left the scene.
James Davies (20) of Stoneycroft and Mark Ennis (30) of Walton also deny the fatal stabbing of Mr Mason and wounding two other men, Justin Trickett and Sam Illidge. A fourth man, Jake Melia (21) of Aintree, has pleaded guilty to all charges.
Last week, the trial heard that Mr Mason’s murder was the result of a ‘turf war’ between two rival drug dealing gangs in Rhyl. The defendants were alleged members of the so-called ‘Pensarn Crew’, run from a flat on Wellington Road.
Giving evidence, Baines said he had been dealing in class A drugs for some time, including four years in Rhyl. He had known Mr Mason and sold drugs to him. The victim also worked occasionally for the defendant before he joined a rival gang as a dealer.
Baines said it was ‘not in his nature’ to chase people for money when he had been ripped off, which he ‘took on the chin’, having occurred ‘plenty of times’. He also knew where CCTV cameras were located across the town – including outside Home Bargains on Marsh Road – and ensured he avoided them when he made up to four journeys a week to Rhyl.
On the day of the murder, Baines said he heard about an alleged attack at The Cob, near Marine Lake, and wanted to confront Mr Mason about what happened – but he denied arming himself with a weapon and claimed he just wanted to speak to him.
When the three defendants found Mr Mason that evening, they got him to pull over in the car park to ”have words” – although Baines denied trying to deliberately search for his van. At that point, Melia gave chase and as they drove away, he told them he had stabbed three people.
Baines said he knew he was going to be arrested because the car was insured in his name and they had been caught by parking eye cameras. He screamed and swore at Melia and told him to get rid of his knife, which he believed was left in the sea.
Baines added that he abandoned his vehicle in Norris Green upon his return to Liverpool and did not know what had happened to it. He claimed he did not have any violence in mind and he did not see a weapon at any stage.
At an earlier hearing on Wednesday, a Home Office pathologist told the court that Mr Mason would have died very rapidly from the 22 stab wounds he suffered, including two in the abdomen.
Dr Brian Rogers said in some cases, Mr Mason had been slashed and cut, leaving him to bleed to death within a matter of minutes – although it was not possible to tell whether or not he had been wounded by more than one person. Traces of cocaine and cannabis were also found in his body during the post-mortem examination.
The trial continues.