Four men have been found guilty of murdering Sam Davies in Lincoln in May 2021.
Joe Jameson, Eimantas Gochman, Daniel Heydari and Billy Gill were all convicted on Wednesday, April 6.
Jameson was also found guilty of making threats to kill.
The other three defendants – Charlie Wakefield, Eric Kesel and a 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named – were acquitted of both murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter.
The jury of nine members at Nottingham Crown Court took just one day to come to their conclusions following a trial lasting 13 weeks.
All of the defendants had been warned about making any outbursts as the verdicts were delivered.
The four convicted showed little reaction as the unanimous verdicts were given by the jury foreperson.
Trial judge, The Honourable Mr Justice Goss, who followed the last few days of proceedings via video link due to testing positive for COVID-19, adjourned sentencing until Wednesday, April 13 at the latest.
But he warned the guilty four – Jameson, 24, of Whitehall Terrace; Gochman, 20, of Sturton Close; Heydari, 25, of Chestnut Street; and Gill, 21, of Hatcliffe Gardens – that they could expect life sentences, with a minimum period.
Gochman was recruited by Jameson and Heydari to stab 23-year-old Mr Davies. Gill supplied Gochman’s number and kept in touch with events as they unfolded on May 27.
Mr Davies died four hours after he had been stabbed twice in a park between Coleridge Gardens and Browning Drive on the city’s St Giles estate.
Mr Justice Goss thanked the remaining jurors – three had been discharged during the trial, two of which due to COVID-19.
He said: “I want to thank you very sincerely for the patience and care that you have applied in carrying out your duties as jurors in this case.
“Trying any case of murder is always difficult for anyone. Unfortunately juries up and down the country are having to hear such cases week in, week out.
“Trying cases under the current pandemic circumstances…has added to the difficulties.”
Rachael Dean from the CPS said: “This was a brutal killing, ordered and executed in cold blood, with its roots in wider criminal activity.
“While there was overwhelming evidence that Gochman had carried out the attack itself, he was not acting alone, and these defendants are every bit as responsible for Mr Davies’s death. Joe Jameson and Daniel Heydari had a grudge and involved Billy Gill and Eimantis Gochman in exacting their revenge.
“Proving that involvement has been a long and complex process and I hope seeing those responsible for Mr Davies’s death will be of some comfort to Mr Davies’s family and loved ones. I would like to offer them my sincere condolences for their loss.”
Building the case
Demonstrating to the jury the extent of the defendant’s shared responsibility or Mr Davies’s murder involved piecing together a large volume of evidence and demonstrating to the jury that the evidence, pieced together, showed that there was no other explanation than that they were all involved.
Eimantas Gochman was identified as the attacker through forensic evidence from the knife, which he had abandoned nearby. Searches of his home also revealed that he was familiar with the use of knives that could only be used for violent purposes.
Before the attack took place, Joe Jameson made a threat to a witness that he was looking for Mr Davies and was going to kill him. This allegation led to a charge of making a threat to kill.
Evidence from phone contact and messages on text and social media showed that Daniel Heydari had also taken against Mr Davies. A trail of messages between the defendants also identified that they had contacted Billy Gill to secure someone to attack Mr Davies. Messages showed them outlining the nature of the attack and that Gill had recommended Eimantis Gochman as someone reliable. Other messages showed that Heydari knew Mr Davies had returned to Lincoln and was looking for him.
Events on the night of the attack were pieced together matching communications between the defendants and CCTV footage that showed their movements, including contact between the four defendants throughout the evening. This contact got more frequent throughout the evening up until the point the attack took place.
Gochman was seen on CCTV leaving a pub, going home and changing into all black clothing.
CCTV footage also showed cars loitering in the area near the attack, including a car that the prosecution said belonged to Jameson.
The prosecution’s case was that, pieced together, all this evidence showed the grudge against Mr Davies and a period of intensive communication and activity throughout the afternoon and evening of 27 May, which culminated in the fatal attack.
The CPS also demonstrated to the jury that the intent of the attack was to kill or to cause serious harm and it was therefore murder. The communication between the defendants was explicit, using street slang referring to stabbing the victim and the knife used could only have been used to inflict a fatal or near-fatal injury.
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