Mirfield murder trial latest: Friends of Josh Hirst give evidence

THREE men accused of murdering a popular 20-year-old have seen his friends give evidence in court.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 31st January 2013, 4:06 pm

Leeds Crown Court heard this week from friends of Josh Hirst, who was fatally stabbed yards from his Mirfield home on August 3 last year.

Jurors at the trial of Joe Church, Aaron Smith and Nadeem Rashid were told Mr Hirst supplied his friends with steroids and MCAT.

Philip Hepworth, who had known Mr Hirst for several years, said: “He was quite a popular lad in Mirfield and I went to school in Mirfield.”

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He told prosecutor Neil Davey QC that he bought MCAT from Mr Hirst “nearly every week”, and also bought fat-stripping drugs from him.

Adam Prendergast said Mr Hirst would sometimes send text messages offering to sell him steroids.

Anthony Owens described himself as a close friend of Mr Hirst.

He said he saw him “nearly every day” and that Mr Hirst had not used steroids himself for around a year before his death.

Paul Greaney QC, for Church, said: “Whether Josh was using steroids at the point in time we are concerned with might become a very important issue, so I ask you to think very carefully about whether Josh was using steroids at that time.”

Mr Owens said: “Josh was not using steroids at that time.”

Mr Greaney then showed Mr Owens text messages recovered from Mr Hirst’s phone.

He said: “I know you want to do your best by your friend, but do you just want to reflect on whether Josh was using steroids last year.”

Mr Owens said: “I don’t know that he was using steroids last year.”

On Monday, forensics expert Elizabeth Harris told the court she had analysed bloodstains left by Mr Hirst outside his home in Grove Street.

She described a bloodstained shirt which Mr Hirst had worn earlier in the evening. It was found draped over the back of his father’s pickup truck in Hepworth Lane.

Mrs Harris said blood matching Mr Hirst’s DNA profile was later found in the bathroom of a house in Mitchell Avenue, Waterloo, Huddersfield.

Last week Mr Davey said Church and Smith had cleaned themselves up there before driving out of town to dispose of their clothing.

Mrs Harris analysed the clothing after it was recovered. The clothes included one balaclava with Smith’s DNA on it, and another with Church’s DNA and Mr Hirst’s blood on it.

Mr Hirst’s blood was also found on the dashboard of Nadeem Rashid’s silver Vauxhall Astra, which the prosecution said had been used to drive Church and Smith before and after the attack.

Rashid sold this car shortly after the attack, but Mrs Harris said a balaclava found in his girlfriend’s car had his DNA on it.

Mr Greaney said: “Joe Church does not deny having worn the balaclava but maintains that he did so earlier in the day, not at the time that Josh Hirst came about his fatal injuries.”

Mrs Harris said she could not determine when any of the balaclavas were worn by the defendants.

Church, 21, of Redlands Close, Mirfield; Smith, 19, of Saville Street, Emley, and Rashid, 21, of Lapwing View, Horbury, all deny murder and possessing an offensive weapon.

The case continues.