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Teen murder trial

PUBLISHED: 16:04 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:34 12 August 2010

A TEENAGER accused of murdering Ben Hitchcock told a court he only knew of the attack when he saw a television news report.  Mitchell Elliot, 19, of

A TEENAGER accused of murdering Ben Hitchcock told a court he only knew of the attack when he saw a television news report.

Mitchell Elliot, 19, of Howerd Way, Woolwich, told jurors he was stabbed in an unprovoked attack by a gang of hoodies as he walked to a party with two friends.

Kelsey Park Sports College pupil Ben, 16, was stabbed during a street battle involving up to 60 youths armed with knives, bottles, belts, sticks and bricks in Southend Road, Beckenham.

The court has heard he was a member of the 'Penge Boys' and trouble flared on the night of June 23, 2007, when they tried to get into a party in Beckenham but clashed with rivals from the Blue Borough gang from neighbouring Lewisham.

Elliot said he did not know Ben and did not see him on the night of his death. He denied being in a gang, but he said he knew the 'Penge Boys' existed.

Giving evidence, he described walking in to Southend Road with two friends on the way to a party when they were passed by a group of 10 to 12 youths. They were 'casually dressed' and about the same age as him, but he did not recognise any of them. Following behind them was another group of youths dressed in black.

"One of them lunged at me. He had a shiny object (in his hand) but I didn't know what it was."

The teenager said he pushed and punched at his attackers to try and fend them off, as the first attacker lunged at him again.

He later realised he had been stabbed in the right forearm, which had covered his tracksuit in blood.

Asked by his barrister Paul Purnell QC if he remembered touching the knife that cut him, Elliot replied: "No."

The teenager's print was found on the blade of a large kitchen knife, the court has heard.

When he realised he was cut Elliot said he left to try and get help.

"The right side of my jacket was full of blood. It was down the side of my body, my trainers, right leg, right side of my body, right arm," he said.

Elliot said he knew nothing of Ben's death until he saw a television news bulletin the following day.

Elliot denies murder along with Andre Laurence-Bennett, 18, of Brownhill Rd, Hither Green, who the prosecution allege was the knifeman who stabbed Ben. He has not given evidence before the jury.

At the close of the prosecution case last week Olatunji Ololu, 18, was cleared of murder on the direction of the judge Gerald Gordon QC. On Monday jurors were also told fourth defendant Royston Thomas, 19, was too ill to continue with the case. Judge Gordon added: "He suffered a very sudden and unexpected bereavement within his family and he is not fit."

The trial continues.

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