10th Dec, 2016

Jack Merrilees cleared of murder in Hatton Park trial

Stratford Editorial 27th Jan, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A JURY has found Jack Merrilees not guilty of murder.

The 21 year-old was charged with the murder of his mother’s partner Edward Cornet after he stabbed him through the heart.

Jack sobbed as he thanked the jury for their not guilty verdict. He walked free from Warwick Crown Court in tears.

The jury had heard Mr Cornet was stabbed three times with ‘severe force’ by Jack, of Linkway in Leamington, who had pleaded not guilty to murder.

Both men had been for a family meal with their respective partners on May 2, 2015, before going to the Hatton Park home 55 year-old Mr Cornet shared with Jack’s mother.

A fight then broke out after Mr Cornet got angry when he saw a photo of a man he disliked appeared on the TV linked to a computer which Jack was using to look at Facebook.

After Jack tried to remove the image Mr Cornet pulled the television over, smashing the screen.

Jane Bickerstaff QC, defence, said Mr Cornet then attacked Jack and tried to strangle him.

Miss Bickerstaff said after Jack’s mother pulled her partner off, Jack, his girlfriend and his mum ran to the back door to escape.

Jack picked up a small knife on the side on his way out and after hearing his girlfriend scream ran back.

The jury then heard how he punched Mr Cornet then stabbed him three times through the chest, piercing his heart, after Mr Cornet came at him again.

Mr Cornet was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save him.

At the police station Jack told officers: “It was either him or me and it ended up being him. He didn’t finish it but in the end it was me who finished it. He came at me.”

Miss Bickerstaff also detailed Mr Cornet’s violent past, with a number of convictions for GBH, assault, carrying an offensive weapon and driving offences.

Judge Griffith Jones, who had advised the jury to use their common sense, intuition and life experience when deliberating, said: “Jack is aged just 21, he is a young man with no previous convictions and before this had never set foot in a police station.

“Can I thank the jury very much. This has been an anxious case and I can’t tell you how important it is to reach the right verdict.”