John-Paul Johnson murder trial: Defendant changed story in police interviews, court told

editorial image

A MAN accused of murdering 42-year-old John-Paul Johnson at a halfway house in Mansfield told police that the attack was the most aggressive he had ever seen towards another human being.

Daniel Bastable (20) denies murder but two other men, Carl Green (25) and Christopher Buckland (30) have both admitted the charge following the assault at a property on Chesterfield Road South on 25th October last year.

Both Buckland and Green, who will be sentenced in the next couple of weeks, have already given evidence for the prosecution and say that Bastable also took part in the assault by kicking or stamping on Mr Johnson.

Bastable, who has not taken to the witness stand during the two-week trial, was interviewed by police several times after the attack and this evidence has been now been read out in front of the 12-man jury.

During the first interview, Bastable told police that Mr Johnson had been beaten up in town and he had helped him up to his bedroom with the two others.

But in a later interview, Bastable admitted this was a lie and then said he was going to help the police as he had ‘lost a mate’.

He told police that in the weeks before Mr Johnson’s death, he, a friend named Sean Fletcher and Carl Green had taken part in a game which involved them punching each other in the testicles and giving each other ‘dead arms’ which had led to a ‘scuffle’ between the other two men.

When asked by police if he had got involved in the attack on Mr Johnson, Bastable said he had not.

“I was frightened of getting beaten up, don’t forget these lads are a lot older than me, they are all from around here (Mansfield),” he told police.

“All I was concerned about was staying out of the way.”

Bastable described the attack by Carl Green as ‘barbaric’ and said Green had kicked the victim about 20 times - although he had seen Green pick up a tin of custard in the attack, he could not say if he had struck Mr Johnson with it.

“I have never seen someone act so aggressive towards another human being in my entire life,” he said in a police interview.

When asked why he changed his trainers on the night of the attack, Bastable said his black trainers had no sole and it was not unusual for him to change his footwear four or five times in a day.

He also told police that when he helped carry Mr Johnson to his room later that night, he put him in the recovery position and made sure his airways were not blocked.

During day seven of the trial, QC Stuart Rafferty has spent the morning summing up the prosecution case and told the jury that the attack was ‘savage, prolonged, merciless and unjustified’.

“This is not an ambush, before the trial date, both Green and Buckland said Bastable had taken part in the attack,” he said.

“Bastable did not deny being involved in the attack when Christopher Buckland mentioned it to (tenant) Michael Morris in the kitchen.

“Mr Buckland’s evidence was compelling, he was regretful of what happened, not prone to exaggeration and he had simply come to tell it like it was.”

Mr Rafferty said that when Bastable told Brian Hurst to keep quiet about the attack at breakfast the next morning, it was another admission of guilt.

“That is the product of a guilty mind, not a frightened mind,” he added.

“He also took the risk of moving an injured man, why would he get involved in that?”

The trial continues.