South East London mum accused of driving her son and friends to kill disabled teenager

A mother stands accused of murder after she allegedly  drove her son and his three teenage friends to kill a disabled youth in Sydenham.

Nicola Leighton, 36, her son Tyreese Ulysses, 19, together with three boys, aged 15, 16 and 17, allegedly murdered Levi Ernest-Morrison, 17, in Sydenham.

Leighton and the four teenagers all deny murdering Levi, on April 10.

Leighton is said to have ‘rounded up’ four youths including her son to kill Levi, whom the court was told had autism.

She drove the alleged killers to Sydenham Road and encouraged them to chase after Levi and his friend, the prosecution say.  But giving evidence earlier Leighton told the court she had no idea of what was going on.

This week at the Old Bailey trial one of the youths, who was among the group claimed he took a swipe at the victim but never made contact.

Giving evidence, the 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named and was fifteen at the time of the incident, said he didn’t know they were going to Hazel Grove where the killing took place.

During the journey he said he had taken the knife out of his trousers because it felt uncomfortable.

Caroline Carberry, QC, defending, asked: “What was the atmosphere like in the car?”

“Nicola was annoyed,” he replied.

“She was saying “those boys think they can come to my house… I don’t know what she said afterwards.”

He told jurors he didn’t know where they were going and that he left the car believing the intention was only to scare Levi.

His barrister asked: “Did you hurt anybody?”

“No,” he replied.

“We can see you in the footage swiping down in the direction of Levi.”

“Were you trying to make contact?” asked Ms Carberry.

“Did you make contact?”

“No,” he said.

“Why did you do that?”

“To warn him off,” he said, making a gesture to indicate that Levi was reaching for something behind his back.

He said he stopped swiping after Levi fell over the cobblestones and one of his associates then ran past him and stabbed the victim.

“How did you react when that happened?” asked Ms Carberry.

“I didn’t know if I should help him or not,” he said.

“I stood and watched. I didn’t see the blood, just the scream he let out.”

After the stabbing, the teenager said he went to his brother’s house who told him he could ‘get into a lot of trouble for this’.

Ulysses called him later that night and told him to ‘lay low’, the court heard.

Previously in the trial the court heard that the day after the attack Leighton is said to have contacted the 17-year-old and said he should try to get in contact with one of the 15-year-old boys because he wanted to hand himself in.

“I think he kind of understood that he was responsible,” said the 17-year-old, who also cannot be named.

“I know now it doesn’t work like that, but I think [Ulysses] was hoping that his mum would get released.”

Jurors heard the 17-year-old had a machete but it has never been recovered.

“Did you still have it with you when you found out Levi was the boy that was stabbed and had died?” asked his barrister, Christopher Henley, QC.

“Yes,” he replied.

“I spoke to my mum about what happened. I explained to her my role in it. Another family member came into the room as my mum was pretty upset. They said I shouldn’t have that in my house so they disposed of it.”

Mr Henley asked: “Have you ever said to anyone that you stabbed Levi?”

The 17-year-old replied: “No never.”

He insisted he was not lying and trying to shift blame onto his 15-year-old friend for what he allegedly did.

Although he pleaded guilty to possession of a machete, he said he did not use it or inflict any injury with it, nor did he intend to.

“The prosecution case is that, as Levi lay defenceless on the ground, you came over and pushed your machete into him, causing a fatal wound. Did you do this?” asked Mr Henley.

“No I didn’t,” the teenager replied.

On 11 April, he had met up with two friends and they smoked cannabis together, the court heard.

“I was just taking a video of myself smoking,” he said.

Leighton, of Lockwood Close, Sydenham, and one of the 15 year-old boys, deny murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

Ulysses, of Catford, and the other two youths, deny murder.

The trial continues.

Levi Ernest Morrison: Fifth arrest made by police

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