The uncle of a murdered man has claimed he heard the accused defendant threaten his nephew’s life three times over the course of a year.

Patrick Ward gave evidence to St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday in relation to the death of his newphew, Thomas Ward, in Stevenage last year.

He told the jury he heard defendant John ‘Boy’ Ward threaten to kill Thomas three times in the run-up to his death.

Thomas was shot in the chest after three men broke into his Dyes Lane caravan home on April 23.

The prosecution claims Thomas’ death was the culmination of a bitter family feud which began roughly twenty years ago.

Patrick told the court: “I spoke to John three times – twice when I was living in Holland and again when I was looking for work in High Wycombe.

“I called him the first time because Thomas had got in touch, asking me if I had heard the rumours. I asked him ‘What rumours?’ And he said it was going around that John was going to kill him.

“I told him to get me his number and that I would have a word with him. It all went a bit haywire from there. There was a lot of shouting and swearing. He repeatedly said, yes, he was going to kill Thomas.

“He called me back the next morning. He asked me if I had been drinking the night before. He said I was brave to shout at him like I did and then he said, once again, he was going to kill Thomas. He said he was going to stab him.

“Then when I had come back to England to look for some work, I saw him on the streets of High Wycombe. I was in my van and drove on but he was on the phone soon enough.

“It was the same thing over and over again – he’s going to kill our Thomas and we’ll be sorry and all this and that. We were both really letting rip.”

Patrick did not claim to have any further contact with John in the run-up to Thomas’ death.

The trial continues.