Che Morrison murder trial: Drug dealer who fatally stabbed 20-year-old outside Ilford Station insists he was acting in self-defence
PUBLISHED: 14:39 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:39 22 July 2019
A 20-year-old cannabis dealer accused of murdering another 20-year-old outside Ilford Station insists he did so in self-defence, and argues a book of incriminating rap lyrics found in his house by investigators was written by a former cellmate.
Florent Okende, 20, of Eastern Avenue, Gants Hill is on trial at the Old Bailey for killing Che Morrison in Cranbrook Road on February 26 this year.
Mr Okende maintains that he approached Che after one of his own friends had been robbed, and that the pair had an argument before Che shouted out: "I'm gonna kill you".
At this point, Mr Okende claims, the crowd around the pair of them were also shouting "shank him, shank him!" so Mr Okende panicked, and in fear for his life, punched Che in the face before pulling out a knife and stabbing him in the chest.
The fatal wound was 17cms deep and the knife went through the gap between Che's fourth and fifth ribs.
"I saw his hand move and everyone else was moving like they were getting out weapons and I panicked," Mr Okende said.
Although Mr Okende claimed in court he "felt surrounded", CCTV of the incident, captured directly in front of the cash point outside the main entrance to Ilford Station, clearly showed no one was standing behind him.
It is also not clear from CCTV footage that Che's hands moved at all in the moments before he was killed.
"I could have run away but I could have got caught or tripped up," the 20-year-old admitted to the court.
"I felt like all that crowd were waiting for someone [Che] to do something and then they'd follow his lead. I thought they were gonna kill me."
Immediately after the incident, unaware that Che had died of his injuries, Mr Okende returned to a hotel he was staying at nearby and had a shower before disposing of the clothes he had been wearing during the fight.
He then travelled to Stoke-on-Trent because he claimed he didn't feel safe in the capital.
But he returned two days later because he wanted to celebrate his birthday in London.
He was arrested on March 1 and gave a no comment interview to investigators.
The jury were also informed of Mr Okende'a previous convictions.
These date back to 2013, when he was 14, and include: robbery; theft; possession of cannabis, MDMA and cocaine; common assault; threats with a bladed weapon; assaulting a police constable; battery; criminal damage and affray.
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However, Bernie Richmond QC, defending, did point out that Mr Okende has never been convicted for any incidents in which a weapon was used.
One of the prosecution's key pieces of evidence is two notebooks discovered in Mr Okende's home filled with rap lyrics glorifying violence and murder.
But the defendant insists those lyrics, which claim Mr Okende "runs Ilford" and is happy to stab anyone who "swerves into [his] lane", were written by a former cellmate of his at Pentonville Prison, named only as D.
Mr Okende told the court: "He asked one time if I spit bars and I said I didn't, but I jokingly said, 'Do you wanna write some bars for me?', and he actually did."
He insists he told D only that he "sold a lot of weed in Ilford" and he wanted the raps to be about making money.
But prosecutor Jacob Hallam QC pointed out that in the 20 pages of handwritten rap lyrics - or "patterns" - submitted as evidence, not one page seemed to mention Florent, know as "Floz", making money.
He also highlighted to the jury that the notebooks were found in Mr Okende's home and were signed with his signature on the back.
The prosecutor asked why, as the pair had been alone together in their cell for 23 hours a day, Mr Okende had never asked D why he was making up such violent and apparently fictional stories.
"Why did you never say, 'hold on a minute here D, what's all this stuff about how I love sticking blades in lungs and making manz scream mum?' said Mr Hallam.
"The brief you say you gave to D was 'write about money', but instead he writes about how cocky you are, and about that one time you stabbed someone and wished he had died amd wanted to go round there and finish the job.
"Didn't you ever mention this to him?"
But Mr Okende insisted he had never sat down and read the entire two notebooks of lyrics, and said instead D would perform them for him in the pair's cell before writing them down.
He told the jury: "I didn't read most of it, he would spit it in the cell for me.
"He would like spit it all out for me and then he'd write them down when he was finished.
"I never really took it seriously."
Mr Okende denies murder.
The trial continues.