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Gloucestershire Business News

Murder trial collapses after accused takes his own life

A murder trial at Gloucester Crown Court has come to an abrupt and tragic end today after the accused man his own life in prison overnight.

Esam Dawood 27, a Sudanese national of Barton Street, Gloucester, was accused of killed a man by repeatedly stabbing him in a city centre street in front of shocked onlookers last August.

Yesterday, after an unexplained three day delay in the trial, Judge Martin Picton told the jurors that the barristers in the case had been sorting out a number of issues which had led Dawoo sacking his lawyers and choosing to represent himself.

But today, with the case due to resume, Judge Picton informed the jury that Dawood had taken his own life in prison.

He said: "This trial has come to an unexpected end. "

The judge went on to praised the victim Omar Rashid and said that he was a good man.

The judge praised the work of the police, both the prosecution and defence advocates and the interpreter.

He also said that three members of the community who had intervened to disarm Dawood after the attack would receive a cash award from the Gloucestershire High Sheriff for their bravery

The trial has been subject to several delays after it opened on Monday, February 24.

Dawood had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Omar Rashid, 35, between August 25 and September 30, 2019 and also to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on another man, Uche Chikwendu, on August 26. He was also charged with having a large black handled kitchen knife in Barton Street on the same date.

Judge Picton told the jury on Tuesday: "The defendant is entitled to make this decision (to represent himself) and it shouldn't be held against him. It was something he has chosen to do."

Dr Tim Amos, a consultant forensic psychiatrist told the court (in the absence of jurors) yesterday that Dawood was mentally fit to continue to stand trial that that he did not have an acute mental health condition.

He said that in the short time he had spoken with the defendant in the court's cells he was under the impression that Dawood had pleaded guilty to the charges and that the defendant complained that he was being asked questions by his advocates that he felt were irrelevant and he believed that his responses were to be used for other purposes.

Dr Amos said: "Dawood is becoming so stressed by proceedings that he just wants the court to get on with it. I am surprised by the way he talked to me he has not pleaded guilty."

Dawood then made it clear to the judge in court yesterday that he wanted to be sentenced immediately, but Judge Picton responded by saying, 'it doesn't work like that'.

Dr Amos said he believed that the defendant, who is from Sudan, did not know the legal differences between manslaughter and murder and the subsequent consequences.

"But what I can say he just wants these proceedings to be over," said Dr Amos.

During the trial the jury panel of eight men and four women were shown CCTV footage covering the initial stabbing of Mr Rashid in Barton Best Foods in Barton Street and the continued attack in the road outside. Footage filmed by eye witnesses on their phones was also shown.

A number of eye witnesses to the incident had also given evidence during the protracted trial.

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