NONE of the six people involved in the ‘murder’ of a young Carlisle man tried to get him medical help after he was ‘lured' to a house and beaten unconscious, a jury was told.

Lee McKnight, 26, was instead dumped - deeply unconscious but still alive - in a river south of Carlisle.

At the city’s crown court, six people have gone on trial accused of murdering Mr McKnight in the early hours of July 24 last year.

Opening the case, QC Timothy Cray gave a detailed outline of Mr McKnight’s last hours - and the events which the prosecution say led to it.

The background to the tragedy, said Mr Cray, was a drugs debt - probably running into thousands of pounds - which Mr McKnight owed to Jamie Davison, one of the six accused of the killing.

Davison, 26, of Beverley Rise, Harraby, has pleaded not guilty to murder, as have the other five defendants.

The accused include two men allegedly recruited by Davison - himself under pressure to settle a drugs debt - as he in turn sought to apply pressure to Mr McKnight - Arron Graham, 25, and Jamie Lee Roberts, 18.

Also in the dock is the woman who the prosecution say was used to 'lure' Mr McKnight to the address in Charles Street, Carlisle, where he was “beaten to the point of death.”

Coral Edgar, 26, denies inviting Mr McKnight to her home in support of Davison’s plan to flush him out of hiding. She said she asked Mr McKnight to visit her so she could buy drugs from him.

The other two defendants - Coral Edgar’s mother Carol Edgar, 46, also of Charles Street, and Jamie Lee Roberts’ father Paul Roberts, 51, who lives with his son in Grey Street, acted as helpers, say the prosecution.

Explaining the background, Mr Cray said: “Drug dealing is a violent business. Everyone involved knows the score as to how debts are enforced.

“The dealers cannot exactly go to the police or the courts to resolve money disputes. Such disputes are overwhelmingly likely to end in violence when someone refuses to pay up.”

The jury heard that Mr McKnight - as well as doing legitimate work - had also done some drug dealing in Carlisle. In doing this, he ran up a debt with Davison, the jury heard.

“Lee had been keeping a low profile, doing his best to duck and dive to avoid Davison,” said Mr Cray. The QC said that in July last year, Davison was himself being put under “acute” pressure and chased by dealers higher up the drugs supply chain.

The jury was supplied with a series of phone messages as prosecuting barrister Tim Evans went through phone evidence from the case.

The messages included one that was sent to Davison, stating: “Lad, I’ve got to se you today. I’ll be in Carlisle by 2pm. You need to meet me with some paper [money] before it gets messy. Trying to do you a favour.”

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Because he was under ‘acute pressure”, Davison needed to find a “safe house” where Mr McKnight could be either ‘persuaded’ to settle his debt - or be punished, say the prosecution.

Thus Davison arranged for Mr McKnight to be “lured” to the house in Charles Street.

The prosecution believe that Coral Edgar persuaded Mr McKnight to visit her home in the early hours of 2am by promising him sex.

She claims she invited him there so she could buy drugs.

But immediately after Mr McKnight arrived at her home, at around 2.40am, Mr McKnight was attacked by Davison, Graham, and Jamie Lee Roberts, the jury heard.

Neighbours reported hearing music being turned on - an attempt to mask the sound of Mr McKnight shouting out in pain during the attack, said Mr Cray.

Bloodstains later found at the house and a post-mortem evidence revealed the sustained and violent nature of the attack on Mr McKnight.

He suffered 36 cuts the head alone, as well as numerous broken bones, that included a skull fracture, broken neck bone and multiple rib fractures.

The prosecution say the injuries resulted from punches, kicks and stamping, as well as being repeatedly hit with a riding crop, using both its hard handle and the whip end.

“We suggest,” said Mr Cray, “that his injuries made him look like someone who had been tortured.”

A pathologist also believed that part of the attack happened as Mr McKnight was “secured” or in some way immobile in a chair.

Carol Edgar, say the prosecution, had arranged to remove her dog from the address that morning so it would not wake the neighbours as Lee McKnight was being attacked.

Paul Roberts admits taking a change of clothes to Charles Street for his son.

But having seen Mr McKnight - badly injured but still alive - he urged the others to get him medical help, he says.

Wrapped in curtains, and deeply unconscious, Mr McKnight was put into Carol Edgar’s Nissan Navara pick-up truck and driven to farmland south of Carlisle.

He was then ‘dumped’ face down into the river. A pathologist concluded that he was still alive when put into the water.

Mr McKnight died as a result of head, neck and chest injuries, and drowning.

Carol Edgar claims she was oblivious to the violence at Charles Street because she had taken hard drugs.

Davison says Jamie Lee Roberts had “gone over the top” when attacking Lee McKnight, and Jamie Lee Roberts aimed the same accusation at Davison.

Coral Edgar says she was “terrified” when the violence was underway and she had “hidden” in another room. Graham claims that he was not at the property when Mr McKnight was attacked.

At some point, said Mr Cray, all six defendants were in the Charles Street house after Lee McKnight had been beaten unconscious. Mr Cray said: “We have all six defendants in a two-up two-down house; you have a man who has been beaten – so severely he is on the path to death.”

“Think about what must have been going on.

“Nobody at this point thought: ‘He’s still alive so we’ll get medical help; we’ll dial 999; or we even just take him up to the hospital and dump him outside. Nobody does anything like that.

“There was plenty of time to do that if anybody had cared at all for Lee but none of them did the decent thing. We say that’s further evidence that they were all prepared to do Lee serious harm.”

The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks.