Phone evidence outlined to trial jury over death of Sunderland teenager

Phone contact between two accused killers and their alleged victim shortly before he met his death proved it was a pre-planned attack after he was lured to what was to be his burial site, a court was told.

Evidence of timings of phone calls and messaging between accused pair Ben Cook and Louis Hackett, and with their alleged victim, Kieran Williams, was outlined to the jury on the second day of their trial, charged with his murder, at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court was previously told that the accused pair, both aged 19 at the time, and from Ford Estate, Sunderland, arranged to meet 18-year old Mr Williams to smoke cannabis, on what they called “mini Clatchy”, on former industrial land to the west of the new Northern Spire Bridge, on the southern bank of the River Wear, in Sunderland.

Mr Williams, who lived in supported accommodation in the Ashbrooke area of ​​Sunderland, had spent much of the time, on what the prosecution said was the day of his death, on April 18, Easter Monday, last year, at his mother, Tracey Williams ‘ home, in Pallion, near to Ford Estate.

Read more: Trial starts of Sunderland pair accused of murder of Kieran Williams

The last time she saw him was shortly after 5.30pm when he was on her sofa watching tv as she left to go to a restaurant, planning to bring her last some food back on her return.

Prosecuting counsel David Lamb KC said Mr Williams used Facebook Messenger to communicate if there was no credit on his phone.

Mr Lamb said the last use of his mother’s wifi system on Mr Williams’ phone was at 6.40pm that day.

Shortly beforehand phone calls were made from the landline at Mr. Cook’s home to Mr. Hackett’s mobile phone.

It was followed almost immediately by a call from Mr. Hackett to Mr. Williams, who then left his mother’s address to make his way to the spot that would prove to be his burial site.

Mr Lamb said this was evidence that it was a pre-planned attack by the accused pair.

He said Mr Hackett then left his home in Fordenbridge Square, making his way to the meeting site on his bike, receiving two calls from Mr Cook as he did so, at 6.31pm.

Mr Lamb said after this there was to be, “an unusual and sinister event”, as at 6.58pm Mr Cook activated the airplane mode on his mobile phone.

Read more: Kieran Williams: Family pays tribute to Sunderland teenager

“He did so to prevent his movements and location being traced by the police during the inevitable further investigation that was to follow.

“We suggest that having turned to airplane mode on his phone, he left the device at his home address, in Fordfield Road.

“Ben Cook then also made his way to the murder scene.”

Mr. Lamb said while the accused duo were together, over a period of 14 minutes and 48 seconds, all communication between them was halted, up to 7.24pm.

He said it was during that short period that they murdered Mr. Williams, before burying him in the possibly pre-dug grave in a secluded area, surrounded by trees.

“Thereby, they were executing the plan the two had hatched.”

Mr. Lamb said cell-site analysis supports the fact that both the hand sets of Mr. Williams and Mr. Hackett were both present at the burial site at that time.

In what Mr. Lamb said was, “a curious twist of fate” Mr. Hackett’s mobile phone was used, by Mr. Cook to leave a message, intended for his mother, saying: “I’ll be ten minutes. On my way home”, at 7.28pm, implying they (both accused) were together at that point.

Mr Lamb said by 8.36pm Mr Cook’s phone came out of airplane mode, having been off-grid for 90 minutes, and within 24 seconds of it becoming operational again and re-joining the network, a text message was sent to Mr Cook by Mr Hackett.

The last time Mr Williams’ phone was activated was 8.29pm, with cell-site analysis showing he was where his body would be found, almost six weeks later.

Mr. Lamb said messages were sent to Mr. Williams’ phone by the accused pair, to leave the impression that they were trying to contact him, supposedly unaware of where he was at the time.

“The prosecution is asserting that by this time Kieran Williams was already dead and this was part of the cover up between these two defendants.”

Mr. Lamb said in later days both returned to the burial site where they remained for some time.

The makeshift grave was discovered, covered with sticks, leaves, litter and branches, on May 31.

By June 2, the police were able to confirm that the body in the grave was that of Mr. Williams.

It was found with multiple stab wounds and soft tissue injuries.

Mr. Hackett’s fingerprints were found in clay at the burial site and in the grave itself.

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Confronted with that evidence, both accused, who had previously denied any knowledge of Mr. Williams’ disappearance, were then said to have changed their story and admitted being at the murder scene, but each blamed the other for the death of the victim.

Mr. Cook and Mr. Hackett, who is now aged 20, both deny the charge of murder.

The trial continues tomorrow (Friday January 20) with evidence from a specialist in cell-site analysis.

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