A 16-year-old boy died after being stabbed in the heart as a house party in Coventry turned violent, a court has heard.
A trail of blood followed the path from where Ramani Morgan, from Erdington, was first attacked to where he eventually collapsed after suffering four injuries, including being stabbed in the chest, back and face.
The family of the youngster heard the tragic details of his death as they sat in court on the first day of the trial of two teenagers accused of Ramani’s murder.
Sukhbir Singh Phull, 18, and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have both denied murdering Ramani who was found with stab wounds in Clay Lane, Stoke, on the evening of February 29.
The case against the two accused was opened by the prosecution today and the jury heard that a doctor performed surgery on Ramani at the scene in the street and managed to revive him, only for him to sadly die later in hospital.
Warwick Crown Court also heard that one of the accused allegedly asked someone to hide a knife for him in the house before the trouble started and the knife had then disappeared afterwards.
Addressing the jury for the first time, Michael Burrows QC began his opening speech by saying: “On the night of Saturday, February 29, this year, Ramani Morgan was stabbed and killed. He was 16 years old.
“The prosecution say his death was murder and the accused are both responsible for his murder. We say they both had knives.
“For their part, they (the accused) deny being involved in the murder. I understand they blame each other.”
Mr Burrows said a party took place that night at a house in Chandos Street, Stoke, and a number of people were invited.
Among those who attended were Ramani, who was the boyfriend of a girl invited to the party, and also the two defendants.
Mr Burrows said that after Phull and the 17-year-old arrived, the latter “whispered” to a girl in the house that he was “going to give her something to hide and don’t tell anyone else”.
The item turned out to be a “small knife”, said Mr Burrows, which was placed inside a box in the house, with the 17-year-old seeing where the knife was placed.
The jury heard that one of the girls at the party said that Phull kept trying to “touch her” and she told him she had a boyfriend. This was the girlfriend of Ramani, who arrived at Chandos Street along with two friends shortly after.
A short while later the girl who was hosting the party, who did not know all of the people who were now in the house, decided that she wanted everyone to leave.
Phull spoke to the girl upstairs before coming back down and he and the 17-year-old accused then “told Ramani he needed to go and he (Ramani) got up and went outside where a fight broke out”, said Mr Burrows.
The court was told that Ramani produced a knuckle duster and punched Phull with it “two or three times”, before the prosecution say that Ramani was then stabbed.
One of the stab wounds suffered by Ramani pierced his heart.
Mr Burrows said: “His heart stopped beating at the scene. He was treated by a doctor from the air ambulance and surgery was performed there to try and save him.
“He revived him and he was taken to hospital. Sadly, he died at 11.52pm that night.”
The court heard that Ramani suffered four “sharp force injuries”: a stab wound to the left chest that pierced his heart and was the “principle cause of death”; a stab wound to the back of the left chest which injured his lung; a stab wound to the face (left cheek); and a wound to his left arm just above the elbow which could have been a “stab or slice” wound.
Mr Burrows said a pathologist was unable to say whether the wounds were all inflicted by the same weapon, but did say they were all caused by “considerable force”.
The hidden knife
Mr Burrows said that the girl who had hidden the knife at the house at the start of the evening told police that Ramani was trying to say “help me” after being stabbed, but he was unable to speak properly.
The prosecutor added: “After the incident she ran back to the house and went straight to where she had hidden the knife. The knife had gone.
“We say you can infer that it was one of the defendants who had taken the knife.”
The court heard that Ramani’s girlfriend, who knew the younger of the two defendants, said she saw Phull pull a knife from his trousers during the fight.
She said she told Ramani to run and after being told he had then been stabbed, she went to him and saw he was “bleeding to death”.
Mr Burrows said that a number of witnesses described two different types of knives being seen that night: one with a blade about 3-4 inches long and another about 8-9 inches long.
He also stated that a forensic examination of the scene by police revealed a “trail of blood on the road which ran from outside the house (in Chandos Street) to the point where [Ramani] finally collapsed”.
Phull and the 17-year-old were both arrested by police in the early hours of March 1.
The jury was told that Phull – arrested from his home in Binley Road, Coventry – answered ‘no comment’ in interview, while the 17-year-old prepared a statement in which he denied stabbing or killing anyone, but said he had witnessed an altercation between two people. He also said he had not seen any weapons.
When asked about a girl at the party saying she had hidden a knife on his instructions, the teenager made no comment.
Following the younger defendant’s arrest, police searched his home and found a jacket on the kitchen floor which matched that worn by Phull the previous evening and blood stains on it were later found to match the DNA of Ramani.
Mr Burrows said the fact that Phull’s jacket was found at his co-accused’s home shows they were “acting together”.
The jury were shown still images of CCTV footage collected by detectives during the police investigation.
Mr Burrows said that footage from Chandos Street shows Ramani and two people, who the prosecution say are the two defendants, in the road on the evening of February 29.
Mr Burrows said Phull and Ramani are seen “swinging arms at each other”, before Phull can be seen with a “reflective item” in his hand.
The prosecutor said the CCTV then shows Phull “stretching forward and we say stabbing towards Ramani who is backing away”.
A few seconds later Phull “appears to reach out towards Ramani with his arms”, while Ramani “appears to arch away”, said Mr Burrows.
Shortly after, the CCTV stills show Ramani running along Clay Lane with another person, who the prosecution say is the 17-year-old, running after him.
“Why was he running in the same direction if he wasn’t involved?” Mr Burrows asked the jury.
Other images from the CCTV footage show Ramani falling to the ground more than once and trying to get back to his feet, before finally collapsing.
Mr Burrows brought his opening speech to an end by saying: “This incident appears to have started with Phull saying in effect to invite Ramani outside to fight.
“What else did he mean when he said ‘step outside’ or ‘come outside’ as witnesses have described?
“People who choose to fight or agree to fight are not acting in self-defence.They are acting unlawfully.
“Whether both produced their knives or not, we say they were acting together in a joint enterprise. They were there to back each other up. That is why they followed and chased Ramani Morgan.
“Ramani himself was armed but these defendants were not acting in self-defence. They had knives, where the wounds were inflicted and the fact they were stab wounds and not slash wounds to warn someone off to say ‘keep back, I’m armed’.
“The number of wounds show it was unlawful and they intended serious injury, if not death.”
The trial continues.