Masked men stabbed Josh to death in alley, court told

TRAGIC: Hepworth Lane, Mirfield, where Josh Hirst was found collapsed by his father Terence. (D531A232)
TRAGIC: Hepworth Lane, Mirfield, where Josh Hirst was found collapsed by his father Terence. (D531A232)

A “nice natured guy” who was “everybody’s friend” was stabbed yards from his front door by masked men, a court heard this week.

Leeds Crown Court was told Josh Hirst’s father found him in the kitchen of their Mirfield home with his throat cut.

The family had previously lived in Liversedge.

Prosecutor Neil Davey QC told jurors the 20-year-old was attacked in an alley near his home in Grove Street.

Nadeem Rashid, Aaron Smith and Joe Church are being tried for his murder.

The court heard the trio “hunted” for Mr Hirst in Rashid’s Renault Megane on August 3 last year.

Mr Davey said they saw Mr Hirst driving his white Audi shortly before 11pm and followed him home.

When Mr Hirst left his car, he met two men in balaclavas who the prosecution say were Church, 21, and Smith, 19,

The pair chased Mr Hirst down an alley and the 20-year-old was stabbed in his hand, lip, back and throat.

After the attack, Rashid dropped off Church and Smith. He immediately arranged to sell his car, while the other men waited for another lift.

Church and Smith were taken to a house in Huddersfield where they cleaned themselves up and tried to burn their bloodstained clothes. Church’s girlfriend, Kirstie Rainford, fetched his car for him having filled it up with petrol. Church then drove himself, Smith and another man, Christopher Coles, to South Yorkshire, stopping to get rid of evidence on the way. Mr Coles later helped police by taking them on a tour of sites where the evidence had been ditched.

Mr Davey said police also found a balaclava with Rashid’s DNA on it in his girlfriend’s car.

Jurors heard Mr Hirst had been celebrating his girlfriend’s 18th birthday on the night he was killed.

His father told the court on Tuesday: “He was everybody’s friend. He was a nice natured guy. He liked to go out and he liked to look good.”

Earlier Mr Davey had said there was “bad blood” between Mr Hirst and a group he knew as the ‘London Parkers’ who were linked to Mirfield’s London Park Estate.

Jurors were told members of the group mistakenly thought Mr Hirst was involved in a disturbance at Church’s house in May last year.

Hours before Mr Hirst was killed, Church and Smith attended a sentencing at Leeds Crown Court where several ‘London Parkers’ were jailed.

On Monday, the court was shown CCTV footage of Church buying a knife from a shop in Leeds shortly after the hearing. Mr Davey said Church and Smith then bought two balaclavas from a market stall in the city.

Rashid, 21, of Lapwing View, Horbury; Church, of Redlands Close, Mirfield, and Smith, of Saville Street, Emley, all deny murder and possessing an offensive weapon.

The case continues.