Man on trial for murder denies killing Kieran Williams and burying him in makeshift grave

A trial is underway for two men accused of the murder of Kieran Williams. Credit: Northumbria Police

A man on trial for the murder of his friend who was found buried in a makeshift grave has denied killing him and told jurors "he was like my brother".

Kieran Williams' body was discovered, with multiple stab wounds, in a clandestine grave at a secluded spot near Northern Spire Bridge in Sunderland last June, more than six weeks after he went missing.

Jurors have heard Williams, 18, who was from Sunderland, suffered "at least 20" stab wounds to his chest, torso, neck and had injuries to his hands, arms, legs and feet, which may have been from trying to protect himself.

His friends Ben Cook, 19, of Fordfield Road, and Louis Hackett, 20, of Fordenbridge Square, both Sunderland, deny William's murder and are being tried by a jury.

Both men have accused the other of killing Williams.

Giving evidence from the witness box on Friday 27 January, Cook was asked by his barrister Caroline Goodwin KC who killed Williams and replied: "Louis."

Cook denied playing any part in the killing or burial of Williams.

He told jurors he, Williams and Hackett had met up on 18 April when he heard "two thuds" and Williams' screamed and saw him clutch his chest then try to run away.

Cook told the court Williams then collapsed, and added: "He just said 'I'm going to die'.

"Louis walked over to him, after Kieran saying he was going to die, and just started stabbing him and stabbing him.

"He just stood over him, just stabbing him.

"I just froze, I couldn't think."

Cook said Williams was screaming loudly and "there was lots of blood" and that he "saw him go".

He added: "I can't even put into words how I feel about it, absolutely devastated.

"I was shocked, I couldn't believe what was happening."

Cook said Hackett had then squirted a liquid over Kieran and set alight to it before he was covered in "leaves and twigs and stuff".

He said he took no part in digging the grave or burying Williams in it, and added: "He said if I tell anyone the same thing would happen to me."

Cook told jurors he was not responsible for his death, and that there was no plan to kill him as "he was like my brother".

He said Hackett had seemed a "bit strange" when he first met up with him that day and added: "Me and Kieran were laughing and carrying on, he wasn't really talking or anything."

On Thursday 26 January, Hackett told jurors that Cook had wanted to get his hands on some cash and stabbed Williams to death during a row about it.

Jurors have heard Williams was the victim of a slash attack in the weeks before he was killed and it is claimed he had been offered £5,000 from the perpetrator to drop the charges.

Hackett told jurors Cook had talked about the money in the days leading up to Williams' death and said: "He wanted to get the money."

The court heard on 18 April he and Hackett met with Cook on some wasteland.

Hackett said: "He told me to bring Kieran down. He just said he wanted to speak to him."

He told jurors when he and Williams arrived, Cook appeared "full of tablets" and was drowsy with red eyes and saliva coming from his mouth.

He added: "Ben started arguing with Kieran, they were arguing for a bit then Ben pulled a knife out."

Hackett said the argument between Williams and Cook was "about the money" and added: "He pulled a knife from the back of his trousers, Ben, and then started stabbing him in the chest then stabbed him again."

Hackett said Williams had tried to run away after being stabbed about "three times or something" but Cook caught up with him.

He added: "He just fell to the floor. Ben jumped on top of him and started stabbing him.

"I couldn't talk, I couldn't move, I was in shock."

Hackett told jurors he saw a "half dug" grave nearby and Cook told him to "start digging the hole more" and added: "I felt like I had to, if I didn't do it I would probably be with Kieran now".

He said he helped Cook put Williams into the grave when it was fully dug and added: "He had a bottle of petrol or something. He squirted it on top of Kieran. He had a piece of cloth in his hand. He set the cloth alight then put that in with Kieran."

Hackett said he feared himself or his family could have been put in danger if he did not go along with what happened.

The trial continues.

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