Murder trial told of revenge attack'

PUBLISHED: 12:06 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:44 12 May 2010

A FATHER punched and kicked a lorry driver to death in revenge after he had been involved in a scuffle with his daughter, a court was told. Graham Willis, 45, sped to the scene to confront Darren Knight, 37, in Jepps Lane, Royston. Mr Knight put his hands

A FATHER punched and kicked a lorry driver to death in revenge after he had been involved in a scuffle with his daughter, a court was told.

Graham Willis, 45, sped to the scene to confront Darren Knight, 37, in Jepps Lane, Royston.

Mr Knight put his hands up and said he did not want trouble but was punched to the ground and knocked out by Willis, the Old Bailey heard.

Willis then repeatedly kicked Mr Knight in the head as he lay senseless, the jury was told.

He sped off in his car and took it to a scrap dealer, who had the vehicle crushed within 24 hours.

His daughter Laura Willis had recently been released from jail and police recognised her from CCTV footage.

Willis was arrested on another matter after he gave the false name of Sean Murphy but could not spell it.

The court heard Laura Willis has since died in a car accident.

She had been out drinking with her sister Kelly and cousin Jamie at the Old Post Office pub in Royston on October 8 last year, said Ian Wade, prosecuting.

During the night Jamie Willis was involved in an incident and was thrown out.

As the Willis family walked to the Nu Club they came across Mr Knight.

Laura thought he was either the man involved in the incident with her cousin or the bouncer who had thrown him out of the pub, Mr Wade said.

"She remonstrated with Darren Knight. There came a moment when she inflicted a blow on his chin, causing a cut.

"That encounter fired Laura up. Her reaction was to summon her father by mobile to come and sort it out."

Willis got in the car, drove down a one-way street, and negotiated the bollards in Royston's pedestrianised area to get to the scene.

His family told him who Mr Willis was, and he confronted him in the alleyway.

"Mr Willis was determined to avenge or protect the well-being of Laura. He was deeply sensitive as she had only just come out of prison," Mr Wade said.

"Darren Knight raised his hands in a sort of peace-making gesture. He said: 'I don't want any trouble'.

"But Mr Willis did want trouble. He lunged towards him and delivered two heavy blows to Darren Knight," said Mr Wade.

"He then delivered more punches and kicks to the senseless Mr Knight who was on the ground."

Willis then went back to his car, picked up his daughters and took them to their home in Milton Close, Royston.

He then went to a friend's house, and he bought the Rover estate for £250 for scrap.

Willis arranged for his son, also called Graham, to pick him up, and went to Norfolk.

But on the following Tuesday he was stopped in a car in Thetford which was being driven erratically.

Willis tried to fob off the police officer with the false name but his spelling let him down.

He made no comment when questioned.

Willis, of Guinness House, Little Hardings, Welwyn Garden City, denies murder.

The trial continues.

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