Billy Henham would have been alive for hours before he died of his injuries, jurors have heard as four men are accused of the student’s murder in Brighton, Sussex, in 2020
A popular student was ‘beaten unconscious, stripped naked and thrown over a balcony’ after celebrating New Year’s Eve, a court has heard.
Billy Henham, 24, had been seen “singing, dancing and smiling” in a nightclub hours before his death, SussexLive report.
But by dawn on January 1 2020, he had been subjected to a “sustained and significant” fatal assault in a disused building in Brighton, Sussex, jurors were told. His battered, lifeless body was discovered by police the following day.
Gregory Hawley, 28, Lamech Gordon-Carew, 20, Dushane Meikle, 27, and 18-year-old Alize Spence are on trial accused of his murder. All four deny the charge.
All four defendants participated in a joint attack on Mr Henham in the early hours of New Year’s Day, prosecutor James Mulholland QC told the court.
“William Henham was subjected to a sustained assault before his body was dropped over a balcony and he was found naked, laying on his back on a low-level outdoor roof terrace,” he told the jury.
“Shortly after his death, two of the defendants – Gregory Hawley and Lamech Gordon-Carew – boasted to others about what they had done to Mr Henham.
“The prosecution case is that each defendant either joined in the physical attack upon William Henham or deliberately helped or encouraged one or more of the others to do so.
“Each intended in doing so that he be caused at least really serious injury and they are all guilty of murder.”
Maidstone Crown Court court heard he had suffered 11 rib fractures, extensive bruising to his scalp, face, and neck, cuts and a brain injury.
All were consistent with being punched, kicked and stamped on, it was said during day one of the trial.
The prosecution said the motive for his alleged murder was ‘unclear’.
The Ravensbourne University student was dropped off in Brighton by his father at about 7.30pm and by 2am was at the Concorde 2 nightclub.
A doorman later described him to police as being ‘happy enough, in a world of his own’.
“He was jigging about to the drum and bass music and singing to himself. He wasn’t causing any harm and had a half smile on his face,” said the prosecutor.
By 4.30am, CCTV captured the last sighting of him alive, outside the All Sorts off-licence in North Street.
One of those living in the building later told police that as he and his partner looked on the first floor for a place to bed down for the night, he heard a male voice screaming in pain from inside one of the rooms.
A man he later identified as accused Meikle then opened the door and bluntly told him to ‘F*** off’.
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Earlier that evening, Meikle had been filmed as he danced on a first-floor balcony at the front of the building, with Gordon-Carew, then aged 18, and Spence, who was just 16.
Hawley, the court heard, appeared to ‘run’ the squat and was in charge of deciding who visited and stayed.
He was also seen just a few hours after the alleged murder with a bottle of disinfectant in one hand and a cloth in the other, saying he had to ‘clean up the mess’.
Mr Henham’s body was found by police on January 2 on the flat roof directly outside the room from where the screams had been heard.
However, the court was told forensic evidence showed the attack had in fact started on the second floor before a bleeding Mr Henham, later described by his family as ‘gentle, kind and peaceful’, had been dragged or pulled to the level below for the beating to continue.
Although experts were said to have later linked the defendants to the alleged murder through their DNA, fingerprints, bloodstained clothing and trainer marks, Mr Mulholland told the jury they had shown ‘a significant degree of forensic awareness’ in their efforts to cover their tracks.
As well as stripping Mr Henham of his clothes, parts of his body appeared to have been cleaned and areas of his blood in the first-floor room had been diluted, the court was told.
Traces of disinfectant in his hair were said to be ‘indistinguishable’ from the liquid in the bottle on which Hawley’s DNA was found.
The court heard Hawley also ‘orchestrated’ everyone abandoning the squat on January 1 – the day before Mr Henham’s body was found and three days before they were legally required to do so by an eviction notice.
Meikle told police on his arrest that he had found Mr Henham’s naked body in the recess while he had been exploring the building.
He said he gave it a nudge but there was no response and returned to the party.
“He said he didn’t call the emergency services because he was worried he would not be believed and would be jailed for something he had not done,” said Mr Mulholland.
Their trial is expected to last six weeks.