Men taped `plotting to cover up race murder'

TWO OF the men accused of murdering the black musician Michael Menson spent hours discussing how to cover their tracks, unaware their every word was being taped by police, a court was told yesterday.

Mr Menson was left with fatal burns after three men set light to his clothing in the early hours of 28 January 1997. The 30-year-old never recovered from his injuries and died in hospital 16 days later.

The original police investigation failed to track down the killers. But two years later a "vigorous" inquiry by Scotland Yard's Racial and Violent Crimes task force decided to bug the house of one of its suspects - Charalambous "Harry" Constantinou.

Yesterday Mr Constantinou appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey alongside Mario Pereira on the second day of the murder trial. The men, both 26 and from Edmonton in north London, deny killing Mr Menson. They also have pleaded not guilty, with another man, Husseyin Abdullah, 50, also of Edmonton, to perverting the course of justice. The court was told that the third alleged killer, Ozgoy Cevat, fled to Northern Cyprus within a week of the attack.

Yesterday Nigel Sweeney, for the prosecution, told the jury that hours of taping of Mr Constantinou's flat in February and March this year had caught the men discussing the crime and how to cover their tracks.

"These are plainly conversations, not between innocent people concerned about being wrongfully arrested, but guilty people concerned about being caught and concerned about who knows and who might talk," said Mr Sweeney.

In the police tapes, transcripts of which Mr Sweeney read out in court, Mr Constantinou is heard at one point describing the events in Silver Street, Edmonton, in the early hours of 28 January 1997. He tells Mr Abdullah that they approached Mr Menson who was walking alone in a forlorn manner. "Mario [Pereira] was saying `Let's burn him'. What could I do?" Mr Constantinou is heard to say. Mr Sweeney added: "He is plainly talking about the killing and his position to be put to the police."

Mr Sweeney said the three men, evidently worried, are heard discussing whether others who knew of their crime will reveal them, how to get rid ofevidence and what to tell police. Mr Constantinou allegedly said to Mr Abdullah: "I could say I told him, `Stop. It is wrong'."

On another occasion the older man was apparently heard talking to Mr Constantinou's mother. He said: "I feel sorry for the family [of Mr Menson]. It was a horrible thing. It was a bad thing but it is done and what can you do? The man is dead. You can't bring the man back again."

Mr Sweeney told the court that on 8 March this year investigating officers placed a hidden camera in the Edmonton flat but it was discovered the following day. "Police moved in and arrested all the defendants that day," said Mr Sweeney, adding that other vital witnesses immediately came forward to give evidence.

Peter Thornton QC, for MrPereira, appealed to the jury to consider carefully his client's evidence that he took no part in Mr Menson's death.

The quality of the tapes was poor, with background noise such as a television. "There is EastEnders. Sometimes it is easier to listen to the plot on television than those who are there," Mr Thornton added.

He asked the jurors to consider whether the musician, who had a history of psychiatric illness, might have taken his own life. The trial continues.

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice