Drug dealer, 20, is found guilty of murdering his friend, 16, after stabbing him to death on Boxing Day in row over ‘four grams’ of cocaine
- Jake Rollinson stabbed Joseph Whitchurch in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire
- Teenager died in hospital three days later after one wound punctured his heart
- Rollinson faces life imprisonment after being convicted of murder yesterday
A drug dealer has been found guilty of murdering his 16-year-old friend after accusing him of stealing ‘three to four grams’ of cocaine.
Jake Rollinson, 20, stabbed ‘popular and good-natured’ Joseph Whitchurch at least four times in the chest and leg in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, on Boxing Day last year.
Mr Whitchurch died in hospital three days later after one of the wounds punctured his heart.
Rollinson ‘repeatedly lied’ about murdering the teenager, who looked up to him despite being bullied and threatened by the drug dealer, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
He sheathed the knife and hid it in his garden after his girlfriend Lorna Richardson, 25, called 999 as blood spurted from Mr Whitchurch’s leg.
Rollinson, who denied the murder, was unanimously convicted by a jury yesterday and faces life imprisonment. A minimum jail term will be decided in the next four weeks.
Jake Rollinson (left), 20, stabbed Joseph Whitchurch (right), 16, at least four times in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, on Boxing Day last year
The trial heard that Mr Whitchurch himself took drugs supplied by Rollinson and also assisted his killer with drug dealing.
Rollinson told the jury there was a row between him and Joseph because, he claimed, Joseph had stolen his cocaine.
Although Mr Whitchurch denied taking the drug, Rollinson claimed Joseph was the only person who could have taken it.
Rollinson had alleged Mr Whitchurch picked up a glass on the kitchen side, smashed it and tried to stab him.
Rollinson said he stumbled back and picked up a knife from the microwave and stabbed Mr Whitchurch.
Rollinson and Richardson were filmed giving false accounts to police officers after the stabbing, which the prosecution had said was intended to ‘wrong-foot’ the investigation.
Rollinson and Richardson, 25, of Stapleford both pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Mr Whitchurch died on December 29 last year after the attack, with one stab to the chest piercing his heart.
Pictured: Flowers left by well-wishers on Hickings Lane in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, after Mr Whitchurch’s death
Rollinson, who lived with his grandmother in Stapleford, stabbed Mr Whitchurch in the kitchen of that home.
At 5.22am, Richardson called 999 from the kitchen. She used Rollinson’s phone and he was allegedly by her side when she called.
She told the call handler: ‘He’s been hurt really bad, he’s breathing really bad, he’s really white, his eyes are in the back of his head.’
Prosecutor James Hines said: ‘He was obviously relatively near death even at that stage.’
Judge Stuart Rafferty QC told the jury Rollinson had made a ‘conscious decision’ to put the knife in its sheath and conceal both the blade and sheaf in a hedge in the back garden.
Rollinson and his girlfriend Lorna Richardson, 25, were filmed giving false accounts to police officers after the stabbing, which the prosecution had said was intended to ‘wrong-foot’ the investigation
He said the sentence for murder is fixed by law as life imprisonment. A minimum term is to be decided in four weeks.
Detective Inspector Steve Wragg, of Nottinghamshire Police’s Major Crime Unit, led the investigation into Mr Whitchurch’s death.
Mr Wragg said: ‘Rollinson is a violent, small-time drug dealer whose quick temper and self-documented fondness for knives led to the tragic and premature death of a popular young man who had his whole life in front of him.
‘Right from the outset, Rollinson repeatedly lied about what really happened that day — changing his story only when his rank dishonesty was exposed.
‘Even in the immediate aftermath of the attack — as a young man lay dying in front of him — he was primarily concerned not with saving a life but with covering his own back.
‘Unfortunately, the sorry, sordid reality of what had happened was plain to see to the officers who first arrived on the scene.
‘Rollinson had repeatedly stabbed his victim multiple times in the chest and leg. Despite the best efforts of medical staff those injuries were to prove fatal.
‘I am pleased that the jury in this case has seen through his lies and reached a guilty verdict. But sadly no amount of punishment can ever bring Joseph back.
‘He was a popular and good-natured young man with his whole life ahead of him and my deepest sympathies remain with his family.
‘Throughout the legal process they have acted with admirable calm and dignity and I hope this verdict goes some way to helping them with their pain.’
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