A teenage girl scout was fatally stabbed in the back by two male attackers who allegedly ‘fist-bumped’ one another after the killing, a court heard today.
Jurors heard ‘entirely blameless’ Jodie Chesney, 17, was ‘caught up in a quarrel between drug dealers’ when she was stabbed to death while playing music in a park with friends in Romford, east London, on March 1.
Manuel Petrovic, 20, Svenson Ong-a-kwie, 19, and two youths, aged 16 and 17, from Barking and Romford, are charged with her murder.
Prosecutors opened the murder case on Tuesday at the Old Bailey as Jodie’s family watched from the public gallery.
Mr Crispin Aylett told jurors that none of Jodie’s friends had any idea who was responsible for the “terrible and cowardly” attack.
Following national publicity, police got a “breakthrough” when a witness reported two males getting into a stationary black Vauxhall Corsa.
Mr Aylett said a female witness claims she saw the men "fist-bumping one another" as they got into the car and believed "some sort of drug deal" had taken place.
Mr Aylett said but for the “chance sighting” Jodie’s murder might have gone unsolved.
A couple of hours after the killing, a black Corsa registered to the defendant Manuel Petrovic was found abandoned about two miles away, he said.
Following his arrest, Petrovic admitted driving to Harold Hill with a friend and two others who had gone into the park to collect money and drugs.
He denied knowing the pair were armed beforehand, the court heard.
Jurors heard that Jodie had been with half a dozen friends in a park close to St Neot’s Road, Harold Hill, Romford.
He told the court: “They had gone there to chat, to listen to music and to smoke cannabis. This was something that this group of friends often did together.
“By around 9.20 pm, it had been dark for some time. It was then that Jodie’s boyfriend, Eddie Coyle, noticed two figures coming out of the darkness towards them.
“Jodie had been sitting on a bench table with her back to the two males coming towards her. They made no noise and Jodie would neither have seen nor heard them approaching her.
“Eddie says one of the two males was noticeably taller than the other.”
Describing the moment one of the attackers allegedly stabbed Jodie, Mr Ayelett added: “Eddie saw this taller male swing his right arm in the direction of Jodie’s back. Jodie screamed. The two males ran off, noiselessly disappearing into the darkness from which they had come.
“Jodie collapsed to the ground. Using a mobile telephone as a torch, one of her friends could see that Jodie had sustained a deep stab wound to her back and she was bleeding heavily.
“A local resident heard the sound of screaming. She came out to help. She placed Jodie in the recovery position and tried to comfort her. As might be imagined, Jodie’s friends were hysterical.”
Mr Aylett said Jodie was a “beautiful, well liked, fun” young woman who had nothing to do with drug dealing and was unlikely to have been the intended target.
He told jurors: “The drug-dealing world is one of turf wars, rivalries and pathetic claims for ‘respect’.
“And when drug dealers fall out, they do not take their problems to the police. Instead, they take matters into their own hands, prepared to use serious violence in order to prove whatever point it is that they wish to make.
“The prosecution allege that all four defendants had gone together in Petrovic’s car to Harold Hill in order to mete out violence – and not as Petrovic has claimed, to collect money and drugs.
“If the prosecution are right in saying that Jodie Chesney was an entirely blameless individual who got caught up in some quarrel between drug dealers, then her murder was the terrible but predictable consequence of an all-too casual approach to the carrying – and using – of knives.”
The trial is due to go on for up to eight weeks and the defendants have denied the charge against them.