LEE Mockble, aged 21, from Robin Hood Lane, Hall Green, was found guilty of murdering 26-year-old Villa fan Christopher Priest. Judge John Warner said he used his car as a weapon for the purposes of revenge. He was jailed for life and will serve a minimum of 12 years in prison.
On the 20th April 2008 Lee Mockble had gone to Aston in Birmingham with two friends, namely Ryan Pedley and Oliver Higgins.They went to Aston as Ryan had to go and see a friend and he asked Lee for a lift, as Lee wasn’t doing anything he agreed.
Lee hadn’t long bought his VW Golf, paying £10,000 on finance.
Whilst in Aston they got caught up in the traffic of the Aston Villa v Birmingham City match, as they were not familiar with the area Lee just went with the flow of traffic thinking that it would eventually bring him towards a main road which would have a sign pointing them back towards the City Centre. Whilst in traffic they passed a club called the New Aston Social which is on Aston Hall Road. A group of about ten males were leaving the club at the time when one of them shouted “are you noses” this is a term used by Aston Villa supporters as Birmingham City fans are known as bluenoses, there was no reply from the three young men in the car and Lee sensing that the man had shouted it in a menacing manner started to close the partially open passenger window, then all of a sudden one of the men known as Daniel Brown who had walked out of the club with a half full pint of beer, threw the glass at the passenger window smashing it and splitting Ryan Pedley’s head open. Lee then overtook the standing traffic and moved into the wrong side of the road to get away from these men.
The incident was witnessed by three police officers who arrested Daniel Brown straightaway, although his friends and members of his family remonstrated with the police saying that it wasn’t him that did it, but as i said the officers themselves witnessed the unprovoked attack.
Daniel Brown was marched round to Queens road police station which was in walking distance, yet Daniel Brown faced no charges WHY?
Lee drove about a half mile down the road and pulled into a shop car park as Ryan’s head was bleeding and the glass had gone all over the car, it was making it uncomfortable to drive as it was on his seat also. Lee got as much of the glass as he could out of the car, he also gave Ryan his jumper to put on his head as it was bleeding quite badly, Ryan then got in the back of the car and Oliver got in the front, Lee then turned right out of the car park, away from the incident.
They drove a short distance when Ryan started shouting “get me to a hospital, get me to a hospital” Lee turned and looked at Ryan and saw that the jumper he gave him was covered in blood and there was blood all over him, it was at this moment that Lee decided to turn around and head back towards Villa Park where he had previously saw paramedics so that he could get medical attention for Ryan.
As Lee came back round a bend in the road the group of men that had put the glass through the window were in the road throwing bricks, stones, bottles and whatever they could get their hands on at the car, the main part of the group were in the road on Lee’s side, so Lee went across the road to go around them, there was a grass verge on the opposite side that he could of taken to get away from the group.
Several independent witnesses confirmed that one of the group namely Christopher Priest slipped and fell into the path of the car killing him almost instantly.
Lee’s car then hit a pick-up truck and came to a stop, where they got out of the car and ran fearing for their lives, as they had done all through this terrible ordeal. The group of men gave chase, they caught Ryan and gave him a beating.
When Lee’s dad heard what happened he took Lee to Queens road police station thinking that he had done nothing wrong, he was the one being attacked, unaware at the time that Christopher Priest had died.
It came to light within a couple of days that the group of men who attacked Lee’s car were well known group of Hooligans that the police at Queens road police station were very familiar with.
The leader of this group, Donald Brown aka black Danny, the father of Daniel Brown who threw the glass has written a book called ‘ VILLAINS’ The inside story of Aston Villa’s Hooligan Gangs.
Christopher Priest was also a member of this group.
All the reports that were brought to court also proved that Christopher Priest was almost three times over the drink drive limit and proved positive for cannabis. Lee Mockble was clear of any alcohol and substances.
The trial itself lasted three weeks. Lee’s legal team were delighted with the way the trial unfolded, a couple of days before the verdict, they told Lee’s father that they would have to look at a safe route to his car, thinking that Lee was going to be acquitted, and knowing the hooligans were at the courts throughout the trial.
There was a witness for the prosecution namely Mr Gafar, when Mr Gafar took the stand there was an interpreter in attendance as Mr Gafar could not speak English. When Lee’s barrister cross examined Mr Gafar he said ” Mr Gafar you said when you made your statement at the police station that the driver of the car was a mixed race blackman, did you not?” to which Mr Gafar replied through his interpreter ” no I didn’t say that, my daughter said it”, everyone was surprised at this remark, Marc Wall QC (Lee’s barrister) then said ” what did your interpreter say to you in the police station?” Mr Gafar replied ” there was no interpreter at the police station the police just gave me a statement and told me to sign it”.
Judge John Warner told the jury to disregard anything that Mr Gafar had said and told the prosecution that he wanted a full explanation into what had gone on, of which to this day nobody has heard the outcome.
The Judge also warned the public gallery not to make any sudden movements or noises, he said that he would not let the jury be influenced by anyone or anything, and yet the family and friends of Christopher Priest stormed out several times sometimes in floods of tears.
The officer in charge of the case sat in front of the jury shaking his head while Lee Mockble was giving his evidence.
Whilst Lee was giving his evidence he broke down when he got to the point of not seeing anyone in front of him but felt two bumps.
When they broke for lunch one of the female jurors couldn’t go back into court as she was upset by the young man’s evidence when he broke down, the court didn’t resume for another 2 hours.
When the verdict came Judge John Warner said ” I’m not wholeheartedly convinced Mr Mockble had murder in mind, therefore I need ten minutes to deliberate”, on his return Judge Warner said ” as we know there is common ground between defence and prosecution of 15yrs for murder, but as I’ve already said I’m not wholeheartedly convinced Mr Mockble had murder in mind therefore I give him the least the law allows me to pass which is 12yrs.”
Members of the jury were outside court smoking side by side with the Priest family and friends throughout the trial, this was brought to the attention of Lee’s legal team who said they were allowed to do as they please whilst they were not in court, WHY?