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Newbury teen Ryan Willicombe denies murdering Sheldon Lewcock and trying to injure Kayden Williams

AN alleged killer who mowed down a rival gloated afterwards: “I hope he dies.”

Ryan Willicombe is said to have used his van as a missile, smashing into 19-year-old Sheldon Lewcock and leaving his broken body bleeding in the street.

Tributes to Sheldon Lewcock
Tributes to Sheldon Lewcock

Mr Lewcock died from multiple organ failure five days later while Mr Willicombe fled, with the help of his father, to South Wales, a jury has been told.

Police found him hiding in a cupboard, Reading Crown Court heard on the first day of the trial on Tuesday, April 16.

Nineteen-year-old Mr Willicombe, of Home Straight, Newbury, denies murdering Mr Lewcock and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to another youth, Kayden Williams.

He has pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of causing death by dangerous driving, but this has not been accepted by the prosecution.

The court heard that Willicombe had accused several men - including Mr Williams - of trying to coerce him into the drug trade prior to the incident.

The court heard that before the tragedy, Mr Willicombe, then living in the Tilehurst area, had claimed to police that a group of youths wanted to recruit him as a drug dealer.

When he declined, he claimed they had threatened him and one had pulled a knife, jurors were told.

Philip Evans KC, prosecuting, said: “Whether what Mr Willicombe told police was an entirely accurate account or complete version remains to be seen.”

Nevertheless, he added: “It is not in dispute that there was no love lost between [Mr Willicombe and Kayden Williams]."

Mr Evans said that, on the fateful day, August 4, 2020, “the defendant was driving his father’s van along a road in the Tilehurst area…called Pierces Hill when he spotted an oncoming group of boys riding electric motorbikes.

“He knew at least one of them in the group - Kayden Williams.”

Mr Willicombe aimed his van at the group, crossing into the wrong lane and clipping Mr Williams with the wing mirror, added Mr Evans.

Without braking, he then hit Mr Lewcock head on, jurors heard.

Mr Lewcock was hurled 30m and suffered “catastrophic injuries” including a broken jaw and sternum, fractured pelvis and “breaks to both legs, one of which was open.”

Despite surgery he died five days later from multiple organ failure in John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Mr Evans went on: “Mr Willicombe drove right over the top of [Mr Lewcock’s] motorbike.”

He carried on driving, despite the fact the bumper was hanging off, and left the van in a nearby Co-op store car park, the jury heard.

Mr Willicombe was later spotted being driven by his father before he caught a train from Newbury rail station on the way to his grandfather’s house in South Wales.

While there, the court heard, he messaged a friend saying: “They wanted war.”

On being told Mr Lewcock was still alive at the time he replied: “I hope he dies.”

Warned that this could mean a prison term he added: “True; I hope he paralysed.”

To a relative, he messaged: “I hope Sheldon dies…if he dies I’ll laugh myself to sleep.”

After his arrest he initially told police: “I’m not the person concerned,” said Mr Evans.

He subsequently replied “no comment” to all questions, the court heard.

Mr Evans told the jury they would hear from police officers who spoke to Mr Willicombe a week or two before the tragedy.

Mr Willicombe claimed he was being harassed by local drug dealers trying to pressure him into selling drugs for them.

Mr Evans said: “On July 22, 2022, Ryan Willicombe’s mother telephoned the police to report threats that had been made about her son.

“The police attended and spoke to Ryan Willicombe.”

Mr Willicombe claimed Mr Williams was one of those individuals and admitted using his father’s vehicle to “scare” his alleged tormentors away on at least one occasion.

Mr Evans added: “He said: ‘I would not have actually hit them - I would have probably slammed on the brakes if I had gotten that close.’”

The trial, expected to last until the start of next month, continues.

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