THE first evidence put before the Lee McKnight murder trial jury came from his family – his parents and his brother.

As he testified, Lee’s father David was asked about two occasions when strangers came to the McKnight’s Carlisle home asking for his son – the first time on a day at the end of May, 2019. Mr McKnight senior was decorating a bedroom at the time.

“He [the visitor] shouted up, asking for my son Lee,” said Mr McKnight. “I told him he wasn’t here and his tone changed.” There was aggression in the man’s voice, said Mr McKnight.

He said the man told him that Lee had to get in touch with ‘J’ by a certain time that day "or else the boys would be round". Prosecutor Tim Cray said the visitor had been Arron Graham, one of the men accused of Lee’s murder.

Another visitor came to the house a few weeks before Lee McKnight died. When told Lee was not in, the man – who had a Geordie accent – became angry and said that Lee was in “big trouble,” said Mr McKnight.

The court also heard from Lee McKnight’s mother. She too recalled the second visitor, and his comment that Lee was in “big trouble.” She told the man Lee was not in, though at the time he was upstairs in the house.

She said she had no idea about why Lee owed money.

When she told Lee about the man, Lee apologised to his mother and said that he was trying to pay off his debts with his wages but was struggling to do so because of the lockdown. “Lee didn’t appear flustered by this,” she said.