Nine-year wait for a murder charge

Jonathan Barton
Jonathan Barton
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THE trial of a man accused of stabbing a young Tesco worker in the head with a screwdriver started on Monday.

Leigh Clift, who was arrested nine years after the attack on Jonathon Barton in 2000, appeared at Luton Crown Court for the trial after he had pleaded not guilty to murder.

Mr Clift, of Lincolnshire Close, Bletchley, was charged with the murder in January this year.

The jury was told that Jonathon, who was working at Tesco in Fenny Lock at the time, had been in The Beacon pub in Bond Avenue with work colleagues on September 8, 2000.

Workers from two sections had gathered in the pool room and front bar but the atmosphere had become hostile after a man tried to chat up a girl in the pool room angering her boyfriend.

Jonathon had gone to see what was happening and the prosecution case, outlined by Neil Moore for the crown, heard how a friend of the defendant was heard to say, “If they want to start I will give them something. I ain’t gonna back down.”

As Mr Clift and his friend left the pub they were alleged to have winked ‘provocatively’ at Jonathon and his friend.

The court was told that the pair followed Mr Clift and his friend outside where an argument ensued.

Mr Moore said the defendant and his friend were seen at a car boot looking inside to get something, and said it must have been the screwdriver.

He said: “He must have handed it to the defendant to use as a weapon.”

It was heard that moments later a witness saw Mr Clift with the screwdriver and Jonathon on the ground bleeding from his head.

The defendant was then said to have been seen running off, discarding the screwdriver and a top he had been wearing.

Jonathon was rushed to hospital suffering from two puncture wounds in his head, one of which had passed through the left side and into the brain.

It caused a “catastrophic” brain injury which left Jonathon in a semi vegetative state, unable to feed himself, swallow or communicate by any other means other than with facial expressions or a hand movement.

The jury was told how he was fed through a tube inserted in his stomach and in July 2009, shortly before he was due to go into respite care, he was dmitted to MK Hospital to check the tubes.

On July 10, 2009, it was surgically re-inserted but in the early hours of July 11 he became unwell, suffered a cardio respiratory arrest and died.

A post mortem revealed the tube was inserted correctly but the supply of blood and oxygen to his small bowel was compromised because of an obstruction caused by the atwisiting of the small bowel.

A medical expert concluded there was a direct link between the attack in 2000, leading to the tube being fitted and the subsequent complication.

> The case continues.