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University student’s fatal stabbing linked to on-campus drug row, jury told

Melvin Lebaga-Idubor and Ogechi Eke both deny murdering fellow University of Northampton student Kwabena Osei-Poku.

A digital marketing student was knifed to death by another undergraduate who stole cannabis worth £1,000 from him during a row inside a hall of residence, a jury has heard.

Melvin Lebaga-Idubor is alleged to have stabbed 19-year-old Kwabena Osei-Poku in the neck on a street near the University of Northampton’s campus, before fleeing to Paris on a Eurostar service.

Lebaga-Idubor, originally from Barking in east London, and fellow student Ogechi Eke, who is alleged to have “assisted and encouraged” the killing, both deny the murder of Mr Osei-Poku and possession of a weapon in a public place.

Opening the Crown’s case on Thursday, prosecutor Vanessa Marshall KC claimed the men, both aged 19, are jointly responsible for killing Mr Osei-Poku, originally from Peterborough.

Lebaga-Idubor’s 19-year-old girlfriend Zhanae Forbes-Coleman, from Edmonton in north London but who was also a first-year student at the University of Northampton, denies perverting the course of justice by providing him with a change of clothing and booking him a taxi to London.

In her opening speech, Ms Marshall told the court: “It is the prosecution case that the defendants Mr Eke and Mr Lebaga-Idubor are jointly responsible for the murder of Kwabena Osei-Poku on the evening of 23rd April, just off the campus at Northampton University, on New South Bridge Road.

“He was stabbed not once but twice by Mr Lebaga-Idubor, the fatal injury being a stab wound to the neck.

“Mr Eke was present when the fatal stab wound was inflicted and, the prosecution say, jointly participated in the offence.”

The Crown’s barrister added: “The background to this killing is a dispute about drugs.

“You will hear how minutes before the fatal stabbing, these two defendants (Lebaga-Idubor and Eke) stole a large quantity of cannabis from the deceased.”

After alleging that Lebaga-Idubor was seen holding a folded knife in the kitchen of a hall of residence where the victim’s girlfriend lived, Ms Marshall said of Forbes-Coleman: “It is the prosecution case that she arranged to take Mr Lebaga-Idubor a change of clothing to a nearby property, where he was lying low.”

Forbes-Coleman, the jury was told, is then alleged to have made arrangements for Lebaga-Idubor to travel by taxi to London, from where he travelled by train to Paris.

Kwabena Osei-Poku
Photos of Kwabena Osei-Poku released by his family after his death (Northamptonshire Police/PA)

Eke, from Enfield in north London, was described during the Crown’s opening speech as “probably the most popular drug-dealer on campus”.

Ms Marshall said Lebaga-Idubor was the principal defendant, having allegedly stabbed the victim intending to cause death or at least really serious harm, while she claimed Eke was a “secondary party” who had “assisted or encouraged Mr Lebaga-Idubor from start to finish”.

During the argument in a communal kitchen minutes before the stabbing, Lebaga-Idubor is alleged to have demanded that a quantity of Californian “wedding cake” cannabis be weighed.

Part of the dispute was filmed by a witness on a mobile phone, the court heard, capturing some of what was said.

According to the witness account, Ms Marshall said, Lebaga-Idubor was heard to say: “This is my strip. What are you doing strutting drugs around here? Our line is here.”

The jury was also told the victim, known by the nickname KP, had been suspended or excluded by the university in November or December last year, but had been allowed back in February this year.

The motivation for the killing, Ms Marshall said, was to “scare KB off” from dealing at the university, to steal his drugs, or a combination of both motives.

The trial continues.

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