A JURY has begun to consider its verdict in the trial of a one-time member of the Outlaws motorcycle group accused of shooting a pub DJ known as ‘Daz the Mod’ 19 years ago.
Anthony Stephens has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the attempted murder of Darren Smith in a shooting in the doorway of a Coventry pub in October 1996.
Stephens (47) formerly of Cranberry Road, Tile Cross, Birmingham, but who now lives in Dublin, has also denied an alternative charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.
Mr Smith, known as Daz the Mod, was shot in the face as he was in the doorway of the Plough pub in London Road, Coventry, where he was working as a DJ during an all-night lock-in.
The bullet, alleged to have been fired by Stephens after he and three other Outlaws members had been ordered to leave the pub at shortly after 6am, went through Mr Smith’s nasal passage into his brain, causing serious and lasting brain damage.
Stephens has denied firing the shot, and claims he ducked when he heard it believing it could have been fired at him and three fellow bikers.
The jury retired to begin considering its verdict on the eighth day of the trial on Friday.
After less than three hours the jury members sent a note to the judge asking whether, if they reach a deadlock, a majority verdict will be accepted.
The jury has resumed its deliberations today (Monday, Augsut 24).
Prosecutor Stephen Linehan QC had told the jury police were looking for Stephens at an early stage in the investigation with the intention of arresting him for the shooting, but could not find him.
He was circulated on the police national computer – but was not arrested until November 2013 following the introduction of a new border control system under which airlines including Ryan Air provided advanced passenger information.
He was arrested after arriving in Dublin on board a flight from Birmingham.
Giving evidence, Stephens said things were not good for him in Birmingham in 1996, and he decided to move to Dublin after meeting the woman who is now his wife at a bike show in Ireland.
He said he had returned to Birmingham regularly over the years between the shooting and his arrest.
On the night of the incident, having returned his Outlaws ‘patches,’ the insignia worn on their leather jackets, he went to the clubhouse of the Coventry Outlaws for a farewell party.
It was when that went quiet in the early hours that someone suggested going to the Plough, which had a reputation for holding all-nigh lock-ins, and four of them took a taxi there.
Asked by his barrister Elizabeth Marsh QC whether he had a gun with him or was aware of any of the others having a gun, he replied: “I was going for a drink. I didn’t have a gun, and I didn’t know anyone else had one.”
Stephens said he was half-way across the car park when he heard a shot.