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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 22:54 GMT
Murder accused 'lost the plot'
From left; Cheryl Shaw, Charlene Ellis, Sophie Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare
Charlene and Latisha were killed outside a salon in 2003
A man charged with the murders of two teenaged girls "lost the plot" when confronted by police with a piece of evidence, a court has been told.

Nathan Martin snatched mobile phone packaging which allegedly linked him the killings, a jury at Leicester Crown Court heard on Friday.

Mr Martin is one of five men charged with killing Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare in Birmingham last year.

All five deny the murder charges and three counts of attempted murder.

Some would say that, for a moment, it's an occasion that one of these defendants lost the plot
Timothy Raggatt QC
Charlene and Letisha were killed in a burst of gunfire outside the Uniseven hairdresser's salon, in Aston, Birmingham, in the early hours of 2 January 2003.

Charlene's twin sister Sophie and their cousin Cheryl Shaw were both injured in the attack. Leon Harris was also shot at, but escaped injury.

Mr Martin, Charlene's half-brother Marcus Ellis, 24, Michael Gregory, 22, Rodrigo Simms, 20, and a 22-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, were charged over the attack.

A sixth man, Jermaine Carty, is accused of firing back at the attackers. He denies two counts of possessing a firearm with intent.

Phone evidence

The court had previously heard the shootings were a "botched" act of revenge by one street gang on another.

Police interviewed the suspects, including Mr Martin, on 11 November last year, having found mobile phone packaging on top of a wardrobe in his bedroom, the jury heard.

The court was told that phone could place him at the purchase of the car allegedly used in the shootings.

Timothy Raggatt QC, prosecuting, said Mr Martin snapped and grabbed the packaging from interviewing officers.

He told the jury: "For a significant moment, Mr Martin's guard dropped.

From L to R: Marcia Shakespeare (mother of Letisha), Beverley Thomas (mother of Charlene and Sophie) and Sandra Thomas (mother of Cheryl)
The mothers of the shot girls are attending the trial
"He grabbed the exhibit and the interview became disorderly. His solicitor had to restrict him because there was a real fear he may do something unfortunate to the exhibit itself.

"Some would say that, for a moment, it's an occasion that one of these defendants lost the plot. You may think not just what he said but his reaction to this confrontation is particularly telling.

'Calmed down'

"It got as such that the interview had to be broken off while everything calmed down.

"You will have to judge if that represents the actions of an innocent man who had nothing to do with these things," he told the jury.

The other five questions refused to answer questions during the interview, but all have denied involvement in the killings.

The trial continues.

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