Party murder ordeal of wife

Waiting game: Ashley Charles who is accused of murder.
Waiting game: Ashley Charles who is accused of murder.

The Phillip Sherriff murder trial was due to end today after hearing six days of harrowing evidence into how the Scorton father died after a nightclub glassing attack in London.

Mr Sherriff’s grieving widow Jane has sat throughout the trial at the Old Bailey, London, which heard how the Blackberry executive was slashed with a broken bottle after jostling with media art director Ashley Charles at a party attended by celebrities including the singer Jessie J.

The jury which retired yesterday is thought likely to give its verdict on Leicester man Charles, 26, who is accused of murder.

Charles, 26, told the Old Bailey how Mr Sherriff, 37, had become aggressive and abusive as the pair jostled for space at the concert’s free bar.

The art director said Mr Sherriff barged against him before phoning a friend and loudly discussing how they were going to ‘do’ him.

Terrified Charles claimed he had then tried to stop the situation from escalating by grabbing a bottle of Becks from the victim’s hand.

He ‘instinctively flapped out’ and ended up using the bottle to slash Mr Sherriff’s face, he told jurors.

The blow severed the father-of-two’s carotid artery and jugular vein causing massive blood loss and he died in hospital four days later.

Mr Sherriff had travelled from his home in Scorton to the event at the Pulse nightclub in central London’s South Bank last April 3 as part his work.

Charles was at the party with his brother, who had won free tickets in a competition organised by BlackBerry.

He told jurors he had been heading for the bar alone when an unknown woman approached him and started making small talk.

As the crush for drinks intensified, he said he had asked Mr Sherriff: ‘Excuse me, fella. Do you mind giving me a bit of room, please?’

But he claimed the victim ignored his request and replied: “She doesn’t want to be talking to you. She’d much rather be talking to me, wouldn’t you, love?”

After ignoring the comment and turning his back, Charles said he had then felt a ‘shoulder barge and a grunt’.

Charles said he was ‘fearful of trouble being arranged’ and made a vain attempt to snatch Mr Sherriff’s phone from him.

He insisted he had not broken the bottle beforehand and suggested it must have struck something else before it connected with Mr Sherriff.

Asked if he had intended to injure Mr Sherriff, he replied: “Absolutely not. I was unhappy. I was devastated.

“I didn’t intend to harm him and I could see he was hurt.”

Charles, who has no previous convictions and had never been arrested before, said he had owned up, but denied claims by police he had boasted of ‘bottling’ Mr Sherriff.

Charles, of Nevanthon Road, Leicester, denies murder.