Thursday, October 28, 2004

Colwyn Bay - THE MURDER OF BEN JONES: Ben stood up to this bully and paid with his life for a show of courage

THE MURDER OF BEN JONES: Ben stood up to this bully and paid with his life for a show of courage.


TEENAGE skate boarder Ben Jones was stabbed to death because he stood up to a road rage bully, a court heard yesterday. 

A judge will rule today how long Christopher Lee Johnson, 18-year-old Ben's murderer, must serve behind bars for the unprovoked attack. 

The 27-year-old stabbed Ben as he walked with friends along Dundonald Road, Old Colwyn on June 4. 

Mold Crown Court heard yesterday how the teenager uttered six brave words that would cost him his life Ben and a group of friend were threatened by hardened criminal Johnson who slowed down to avoid them, while driving his car. 

In response to Johnson's threats, Ben asked: ``Who are you calling a dickhead?'' 

But Johnson placed his left hand on Ben's chest then stabbed him with his right hand. 

Ben fled down the road clutching his chest before collapsing. He died a short time later in hospital. 

The court heard Johnson had twice before pulled knives on motorists as he abused them for their driving. 

Last night police said they were relieved Johnson was off the streets of North Wales

After the hearing Ben's mum Christine Jones said she wanted Johnson's youth taken away. 

She said: ``He should come out at retirement age, at 65, for taking Ben's life. He shouldn't come out with his youth still intact but come out and go straight into old age. '' 

The mum-of-three added: ``A family has been destroyed and the person who completed our family is not there. Justice implies Ben's loss will be reversed. That's not going to happen but we want other families to be stopped from being destroyed. '' 

Johnson, of Warwick Road, Old Trafford, in Manchester, but who comes from Colwyn Bay, initially denied killing Ben. 

Yesterday, moments before a trial was due to start, he changed his plea to guilty to murder, not on the basis of an intention to kill, but that he intended to cause serious bodily harm

Mr Justice Curtis adjourned sentence until today, saying it was a bad case of murder. 

While a life sentence was fixed by law there were other issues, including the recommended minimum sentence he should serve, which he needed time to consider. 

Robert Trevor-Jones, prosecuting, said trainee chef Ben and his friends were skate boarding and walking down the road, on the way to his Old Colwyn home, where he planned to spray his hair before going to a local concert. A friend had just cut it into a mohican style. 

Johnson, with his girl friend Amanda Dickinson, drove close up to the group of four, almost touching one with his black Fiat Punto

Mr Trevor-Jones said: ``Despite his girl friend telling him not to make an issue of it, he (Johnson) nevertheless approached that group and spoke to them in an aggressive and abusive way. 

``It was when one of the group picked him up on what he was saying -- that proved to be the trigger which brought him to focus all his hostility on that youth. 

``He went for him, as he came closer he produced a knife from his clothing. 

``In what was both a swift and calculated movement, he took hold of that young man by the chest with one hand and stabbed him forcibly in the chest with the other. 

``That caused what was a fatal wound, penetrating deep in to the heart. Despite that, the young man was able to run away from the scene, only to collapse shortly afterwards. 

``By the time he reached hospital there were no signs of life and he was formally pronounced dead. '' 

His devastated mother Christine had to identify his body that evening. 

Mr Trevor-Jones added said Johnson and his girl friend both had roots in Colwyn Bay. His two children live there with his ex-girlfriend. A mutual friend Nicola Tunstall lived in Dundonald Street. 

The couple, just back from a Spanish holiday, were in Colwyn Bay to visit the Tunstall family and hand over presents. 

They went to buy drink from an off-licence, returning as Ben and his friends walked along. 

After passing close to the group, Johnson parked and said to the group: ``The next time you walk in the road, I am going to f*** you up. '' 

His girl friend told him to leave it and the group turned their backs on him and continued towards an alleyway, and were either sniggering or laughing. 

That appeared to have annoyed Johnson, who asked provocatively ``Which one of you is a dickhead?'' 

Mr Trevor-Jones said it prompted Ben, who was closest to Johnson, to turn around and say: ``Who are you calling a dickhead?'' 

``Unfortunately, it can be said that was a comment that cost him his life, '' said Mr Trevor-Jones. Johnson went up to Ben, fumbling with something in his pocket. 

He grabbed the teenager by the chest and brought up his right arm and stabbed him in the chest. 

``It must have happened quickly because it surprised Benjamin Jones and his group of friends who only then realised that he had been stabbed. 

``His initial reaction was to lift his skateboard. Then he appeared to freeze, realised that he had been stabbed, turned on his heels and ran down the alleyway, clutching his chest, with his friends following. '' 

He got back to Highfield Road but collapsed in the roadway outside his friend's house. Paramedics were called, and people at the scene tried to stem his blood, as a large crowd gathered. 

Johnson, who claimed he carried a fishing knife with him for protection after he had robbed previously, threw away the murder weapon and tried to persuade friends he had never been in Colwyn Bay that night. 

He was arrested in Manchester the next day and returned to North Wales. 

When the knife was found it had Ben's DNA on it. 

Mr Trevor-Jones said Johnson and his girl friend had been due to stay with the Tunstall family in Dundonald Road. 

But it was only his girl friend who returned to the house and she did not display any signs anything was amiss. 

``The defendant sped off in his car to the extent that it attracted the attention of local residents because of the noise, '' the prosecutor explained. 

``At that point he threw away the knife he had used in a nearby wooded area. 

``He must then have driven back to the same general area of Colwyn Bay and parked up in Grove Park, '' said Mr Trevor-Jones. 

At the Tunstall house Johnson told his girl friend that they were leaving. They collected their bags and persuaded Miss Tunstall to give them a lift back to Grove Park. 

They drove back to Manchester and on the way he rang another friend who had seen them and told her that she was not to say that they had been in Colwyn Bay. 

Back in Manchester, he arranged to stay at the home of a friend's mother. He had previously shown the fishing knife to the friend and said that he had bought it on the holiday in Spain. 

It turned out that Johnson had previous convictions for robbery and affray and possessing a bladed article. 

Two affrays centred on incidents in Colwyn Bay where he had produced knives during two road rage incidents a week apart from each other. 

Peter Wright, defending, said those incidents went back a long time. 

He stressed in the present case, Johnson had no intention to kill and said it lacked pre-meditation. 

He had pleaded guilty, which took a lot of courage, he had never denied being responsible for the death and had assisted in the recovery of the knife. 

``This was a dreadful loss of life and a waste of a life, '' Mr Wright said. 

It had also led to the destruction of Johnson's family ``by his own conduct, at his own hand''. 

``The defendant must face the lengthy consequences of that act which occurred over a few seconds. '' 

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Kevin Evan, said he was greatly relieved Johnson had pleaded guilty, saving the family of Benjamin Jones and his friends the ordeal of a trial. 

He warned the case sent out a clear signal the carrying of knives was as dangerous as the carrying of guns. 


Killer Christopher Lee Johnson had threatened drivers with a knife twice before he murdered teenager Ben Jones on June 4
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

No comments: