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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 14:52 GMT
Doorstep killer tripped up by lies
By Chris Summers
BBC News

Chilling CCTV footage from outside the home of Krystal Hart - aged 22 and pregnant when she was shot dead on her London doorstep last year - played a key part in Thomas Hughes's conviction for her murder.

Hughes tried to lie his way out of trouble, but was tripped up by gaping holes in his story.

Thomas Hughes on CCTV
The CCTV showed Thomas Hughes outside the south London house

When the Old Bailey jury was shown CCTV footage from outside Miss Hart's home at the moment she was killed, several members of her family fled from court.

Although her death was off camera, the CCTV film did include a terrifying soundtrack, in which shouting and screaming was followed by two shots in quick succession.

Then Hughes appeared on screen, opening the garden gate and strolling nonchalantly away.

Hughes was a friend of Miss Hart's neighbour, Angie Brewer, who lived below Miss Hart in the converted terraced house in Battersea, south-west London.

The two women had been in a long-running dispute, and Miss Brewer was described in court as the "neighbour from hell".

The court heard that just before the shooting on Good Friday last year, Hughes had been kicking at Miss Hart's front door and calling for her to come out, while Miss Brewer watched from her neighbouring door.

'Mysterious gunman'

There were two CCTV cameras outside the properties.

Miss Hart's camera, which was pointed at Miss Brewer's front door and would almost certainly have caught the shooting, was not working on the day of the murder.

Miss Brewer's camera, which focused on the street, was working and footage - including the sound of Miss Brewer screaming - was shown to the jury.

Hughes claimed at the trial - although he had failed to mention it during police interviews - that a light-skinned Jamaican friend of Miss Brewer's carried out the shooting, before disappearing into Miss Brewer's flat.

Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee said Hughes' version of events did not make sense.

He pointed out that the second shot was fired after Miss Brewer closed her door, because her screams are muffled.

This meant that the mysterious Jamaican killer, if he had existed, would have been shut out. But no such man was seen on CCTV leaving the premises.

'Her friends are nutters'

Mr Jafferjee then pressed Hughes about his reaction to the shooting - given that Miss Brewer could be heard screaming, and that Hughes had said the gunman had entered her flat.

"If you are concerned about Angie and have seen a gunman go into her flat, why are you walking away?" he asked.

"Why not? There is nothing I could do about it. Her friends are nutters," replied Hughes.

Aftab Jafferjee
I'm not a smart man, you are just guilty
Aftab Jafferjee

Hughes claimed he could be heard saying "Alright Angie?", but Mr Jafferjee said: "What is the point of saying 'alright Angie' through the letterbox and walking away?"

"Because she was screaming," he replied.

"You weren't concerned at the screaming?"

"I just got in my car and drove away. It got a bit out of control for my liking," said Hughes.

Mr Jafferjee said: "When you drove away you had your phone with you? Why not ring Angie to check she's OK?"

"It's nothing to do with me. It's not my thing. I never said a word to anyone," said Hughes.

'Didn't ask'

Hughes claimed he was not aware anyone had been killed during the shooting, but Mr Jafferjee asked him what he had said when he rang Miss Brewer on Saturday.

Mr Jafferjee said: "This is the first talk with her since the day before when someone had shot her neighbour. What did you talk about?"

Hughes claimed they had discussed the purchase of some cannabis.

"Why didn't you say 'Angie, what happened yesterday?'," asked Mr Jafferjee.

"I just didn't ask her," he replied.

"Whyever not?"

"But it's nothing to do with me. They are not my neighbours, bro," replied Hughes, slipping into a vernacular which echoed a detective's description of him being a "wannabe gangster".

Krystal Hart
Miss Hart was involved in a long-running dispute with her neighbour
Mr Jafferjee then read out a text message which Hughes sent Miss Brewer the day after the murder.

In it he wrote: "I'm your true friend. I love you like a sister. That's why I bought you the best (Easter) egg in the shop. Thanks for being there for me when I wasn't well. I will love you forever. Sorry no-one should have hurt you like that. Please talk to me some time when you feel better."

Mr Jafferjee said there was an "air of finality" about the message which suggested that Hughes knew the "net was closing" and he would probably never see Miss Brewer again.

Charade of lies

Hughes was no criminal genius and his charade of lies and half-truths was brought crashing down by Mr Jafferjee's intensive, and at times theatrical, line of questioning.

Thomas Hughes
No matter what you say he twists it. He is very good at what he does. I'm not in the same league of intelligence, I'm afraid, but I tell you I didn't do it
Thomas Hughes

At one point Hughes turned to the jury and said: "No matter what you say he twists it. He is very good at what he does. I'm not in the same league of intelligence, I'm afraid, but I tell you I didn't do it."

One particularly dramatic moment came when Hughes denied having read about the murder in The Sun newspaper on the Saturday.

He was shown a scrap of paper on which he had written down a phone number.

It had been torn from Saturday's copy of The Sun.

Hughes said: "I don't read the paper. He is trying to make it sound as if I read the paper. You are a very smart man. But I don't read the paper and I never shot Krystal Hart."

Mr Jafferjee simply replied: "I'm not a smart man, you are just guilty."

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