Jarvin Blake trial: Murder accused drove co-defendants to scene and was ‘shocked’ to see them chase him, court told

A member of a group accused of murdering a Sheffield dad in broad daylight says he drove the two men who chased after him to the scene but was not involved himself.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 1:01 pm
Jarvin Blake died from a stab wound to the chest
Jarvin Blake died from a stab wound to the chest

22-year-old Jarvin Blake died from a knife wound to the chest a matter of minutes after being stabbed in Catherine Street, Burngreave at around 3pm on March 8 last year.

Josiah Foster, 26, of Cookson Close, Wadsley Bridge; Caine Gray, 27, of Treetown Crescent, Treeton and Devon Walker, 24, formerly of Burngreave, are all accused of murdering Mr Blake, which they deny.

Walker denies a further charge of inflicting actual bodily harm on Mr Blake’s friend, Declan Maw, during the same incident.

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A fourth defendant, Lewis Barker, 27, of HMP Lincoln, pleaded guilty to Mr Blake’s murder earlier this month and will be sentenced following the conclusion of this trial. He was remanded into custody until then.

Foster gave evidence at Sheffield Crown Court today, and told the jury of eight women and four men that in the minutes before the fatal attack on Mr Blake he agreed to give Gray and Barker a lift to Parson Cross, because he was driving there anyway to visit his mother.

He said that he was travelling through Burngreave on his normal route when he stopped his car so he could speak to Walker, who was walking on Catherine Street with Mr Blake and Mr Maw.

At the opening of the trial, Simon Kealey QC said it is the prosecution case that Walker effectively set Mr Blake up and directed the other defendants to where he was so ‘they could then attack him’.

Foster told the court he got out of his car so he could chat with Walker, who he described as a ‘friend’ of his.

“I got out, greeted Devon and touched his fist, and touched Jarvin’s fist.

“I recognised Jarvin. I said [to him]: ‘Look at your dread[lock]s’...and made a comment about how long they were...because I hadn’t seen him for about six years...could be even longer than that. He was my brother’s school friend,” said Foster, adding that he did not know Mr Maw and asked him whether he was ‘Jarvin’s boy’, to which Mr Maw responded ‘yes’.

Foster said he continued talking to Walker, and out of the ‘corner of his eye’ saw Gray and Barker get out of his car and run towards Mr Blake and Mr Maw.

“I was shocked, I only pulled up to talk to my friend. I didn’t expect for one second there was going to be any drama,” said Foster.

Foster said he saw Gray and Mr Maw fall over in a nearby garden, and watched Barker and Mr Blake ‘disappear’ around a corner and out of sight.

“At no point did I see a knife,” said Foster.

Mark George QC, defending Foster, asked him whether he was involved in the fatal assault on Mr Blake, if he had any prior knowledge of a plan to attack him and if had any issues with Mr Blake.

Foster replied ‘no’ to all questions, adding: “I didn’t have any issues with Jarvin.”

He said he intended to leave in his car without Barker and Gray, but both men jumped in his vehicle at the last minute, and he drove to Parson Cross with them still in his vehicle.

Mr George asked Foster: “Having seen what you have seen, and taking you were going to leave on your own..why didn’t you say you two can walk?”

He replied: “Because of what happened to me, I didn’t like confrontations...I didn’t want any confrontations with them.”

“I asked them what happened, they just said ‘d***head’. I said: ‘you get out of my car chasing people who were stood with my friends’. They just played it down,” added Foster

Foster told the court that when he alluded to ‘something happening’ to him, he was referring to a knife attack in the Wicker in July 2017 in which he was stabbed several times, both inside and outside the SADACCA nightclub.

Mr George asked Foster why he made, and received, a number of phone calls to Walker and Gray in the hours following the incident, a number of which were not answered.

He said Walker was ‘angry’ with him because his friends had been chased by the occupants of his car; and following an initial conversation, Walker subsequently phoned him to give him updates about the fact an ambulance had been called to the scene for Mr Blake.

Foster said he spoke to Gray ‘because of the situation he and his friend put me in’.

“I wasn’t happy with what happened. He [Gray] was just like: ‘Barker took it too far’.”

Foster told jurors that Gray was the one who informed him of Mr Blake’s death.

Mr George responded: “You heard Caine Gray give evidence [on Monday]. He said he found out about Jarvin’s death from you.”

“That’s not true,” Foster replied.

The court heard how Foster handed himself into police on March 12 last year, and gave them access to his phone and his car.

Foster, a dad-of-five, initially refused to tell police the names of the two men who got into his car, but eventually gave them the names of Gray and Barker.

When asked about why it took him so long, Foster said: “Because my family were still out there...because of what happened to me, snitching isn’t an easy thing to do.”

He added: “I wanted to help but didn’t want people to know I was a snitch. Didn’t want to put my family at risk.”

Mr George told Foster it could be suggested that by naming Gray and Barker he was only seeking to deflect the blame from himself.

Foster replied: “I say the truth. I don’t take it easily, snitching on somebody, telling them the truth, telling them what happened, but Caine and Lewis did chase Jarvin and Declan.”

Mr Blake leaves behind a partner and three young children.

The trial, which is expected to conclude next week, continues.