Stevenage caravan site murder trial: ‘Witness intimidated to exaggerate evidence’

Thomas Ward was killed days after the birth of his first child

Thomas Ward was killed days after the birth of his first child - Credit: Archant

A key witness in a murder trial exaggerated his evidence to implicate the defendant, a jury heard yesterday.

James Dundon provided a statement indicating that John ‘Boy’ Ward – who is accused of murder – threatened to kill his cousin Thomas Ward two years before the 21-year-old was shot outside his caravan in Dyes Lane, Stevenage, in April 2013.

The 18-year-old painter, who was summoned to St Albans Crown Court but did not appear, provided a statement to Herts police on July 23 last year alleging that in 2011 he was travelling in a car when John ‘Boy’ phoned Thomas and told him he would kill him at his “happiest”.

Defence lawyer Dean Armstrong asked why it took three months for Mr Dundon, who is Thomas’ cousin, to mention the allegation and accused Thomas’ parents, Elizabeth and James ‘Young Fox’ Ward, of threatening the boy if he didn’t.

Mr Armstrong also claimed that this had led Elizabeth to fall out with her sister Mary McCann.

He said: “Your husband completely fabricated this evidence and put words into the mouth of James and you subsequently fell out with your sister.”

Elizabeth replied: “We fell out over a personal matter, it was nothing to do with him.

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“Everybody believes that John ‘Boy’ was responsible for my son’s death because he was the only one making threats. All I want for my son is justice and peace.”

When questioned on the matter, James ‘Young Fox’ said: “I just asked him to tell the police what he knew. I think he is more scared of John ‘Boy’ than anything for what he did.”

Mr Dundon travelled to Stevenage Police Station on July 24 this year saying that he wanted to withdraw his statement but was not under any threat. A date was arranged for him to meet with officers but he failed to attend.

On August 14 police received phone call from Mary saying that she was concerned about threats Mr Dundon was receiving and that he wanted to retract his statement.

Then on August 28 Mr Dundon phoned saying he was being threatened by James ‘Young Fox’ and was in fear of his life if he appeared in court.

Detective Constable Katherine Cox told the court that she asked Mr Dundon if his statement was true and said he replied that the the death threat was true but other parts, including if he knew who made the phone call, were not.

The wife of John ‘Boy’, Joeleen, 22, who he lived with at Clarkson Court in Hatfield, his brother Francis, 36, of Stable Way in Kensington, and his sister Winifred, 47, of Cambridge Road in Hounslow, are also on trial, accused of assisting an offender.

The trial continues.