Anthony Stephens denies attempted murder of Darren Stephens outside The Plough in London Road in 1996
A former Coventry pub DJ who was shot in the face, allegedly by a member of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, pointed to the dock at Warwick Crown Court yesterday and told a jury: “I know it was him who shot me.”
Victim Darren Smith, who was a Warwick University law student and part-time DJ at the time, was pointing at Anthony Stephens.
Stephens, aged 48, formerly of Cranberry Road, Tile Cross, Birmingham, has denied attempting to murder Mr Smith and an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
The shooting at the Plough pub in London Road, Coventry, took place as long ago as October 1996 – but Stephens was not arrested for more than 17 years after he moved to Dublin.
He was picked up after landing at Birmingham Airport when he flew back from Dublin in November 2013.
The jury heard that in October 1996 it had become the practice to have lock-ins at the Plough, which has since closed, and people gained entry through a side door.
Prosecutor Stephen Linehan QC said that on the night of the shooting four members of the Coventry Outlaws turned up, and were let in by Mr Smith, but were later told to leave following an argument at the bar.
It is alleged that outside they began damaging a car on the car park, and that when Mr Smith looked out Stephens levelled a handgun at him and fired.
The bullet entered his nasal passage and his brain, and he fell back, bleeding and unconscious.
Mr Smith was driven to hospital and underwent an operation to save his life – but the bullet is still lodged in his brain.
The prosecution said:
Mr Linehan told the jury the two charges Stephens faces are alternatives, and explained: “The prosecution allege that what Anthony Stephens intended when he levelled that gun at Darren Smith and pulled the trigger was to kill.
“To convict him of attempted murder you would have to be sure it was Anthony Stephens who fired the gun, and that when he did so he intended to kill.
“If you were not sure of that, then we offer you the alternative of causing grievous bodily harm with intent – because the prosecution say you would at least be sure he intended to cause him really serious injury.”
Victim Darren Smith said:
Giving evidence, Mr Smith said he was 31 at the time of the shooting and studying for a law degree at Warwick University, which he is only now trying to complete, and also acted as a DJ at The Plough, which he was doing in the early hours of that morning.
Asked about a group who turned up, he said: “I was called off the decks to admit them. I would have gone to the side door. I was called over to validate whether they should come in or not.
“These were Outlaw bikers. There were three or four of them, and one I recognised as Trotter. I’d spoken to him a couple of weeks before and knew he was a member of the Coventry branch of the Outlaws.
“Trotter said the others were his brothers. I took that literally, but it’s just their gang talk. He said one was from Birmingham and another was from Leicester.
“I said they could come in as long as they behaved.”
Mr Linehan asked if any of them stood out, and Mr Smith said: “Yes, the gentleman in the dock. He was very distinctive. He was taller than the others, head and shoulders above them, and he had long straggly dreadlocks and a black beard.”
Mr Smith said he went back onto the decks, but was later called to the bar because the bikers were arguing with staff over wanting to buy a bottle of vodka.
“I was trying to calm it down. When they carried on I said ‘Right, that’s it, get out.’ They went timidly enough, and we escorted them out the back.
“I think there was some pushing and jostling on the way, but they went out the door.”
He was asked whether he could remember what happened after they left, and replied: “They started smashing up a car. I opened the door and tried to see them off. Then I got shot.”
Asked what he saw, Mr Smith said he could not remember now but, pointing at the dock, continued: “I know it was him who shot me, definitely.”
His next memory was of being in hospital, and he told the jury the injury had a ‘massive, massive’ effect on his brain, and he has lost his peripheral vision in both eyes and, although he is now trying to complete his degree, he is struggling to do so.
Of his statements to the police at the time, Mr Smith said: “Part of my injuries is my short-term memory. Anything I said would be to the best of my recollection.”
Having been asked to look at his statement to refresh his memory of what happened, he continued: “I looked out of the door and saw the one with the dreadlocks.
“He had a gun. I caught a glimpses of it in silhouette. He was waving it up and down.”
Mr Smith confirmed the police later carried out an identity procedure in which he was shown a number of photographs, and he said that as a law student he was impressed by the fact they were all so similar.
Mr Linehan asked him: “Were you asked if you could see the person you had seen with the gun?”
And he answered: “Yes, I picked him out.”
The trial continues.