Taxi driver accused of driving a gunman to a South Shields house denies murder plot involvement
A cabbie accused of driving a gunman to a house where two shots were fired has denied being involved in a murder plot.
Kevin Chapman took Aaron Giles and an unnamed man to a house in South Shields where there was an attempt to lure Ryan Carr out, before a shotgun was fired.
The 40-year-old taxi driver said he knew nothing about any plan to collect a gun or to frighten, harm or kill Mr Carr and had simply given someone a lift.
Jurors have heard Giles and Mr Carr had been locked in a dispute that involved "tit for tat incidents", although it remains unclear what exactly it was about.
Prosecutors claim Giles took the row "to another level" when he took the gunman to the home where Mr Carr lived, with his girlfriend and her child, at Brownlow Road, South Shields, South Tyneside.
Giles, 29, of Richardson Ave, South Shields, and Chapman, 40, of Hawthorne Ave, South Shields, both deny conspiracy to murder and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Giles has admitted an offence of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, which Chapman denies.
Chapman told jurors he frequently drove Giles anywhere he was asked to due to a debt of £5,000 that he owed him.
But Chapman said he was not aware of any prior feud with Ryan Carr in the lead up to the shots being fired on September 21.
When asked by his barrister, Robert Woodcock KC, if he agreed with Giles or anyone else for arrangements to be made to kill anyone he replied: "No I did not."
Mr Woodcock KC then asked: "Did you on that day knowingly take possession or have any involvement with a firearm?"
Chapman said: "No I did not."
Chapman said he had received telephone contact from Giles on the day of the shooting, who told him to pick him up from an address in Sunderland.
He said they stopped at an address at Leighton Street in South Shields, which Chapman said Giles used as a "stash house" for drugs. Prosecutors allege this was where Giles had collected the shotgun.
Chapman said he was then asked to pick up the third person in his Skoda cab, who he later found out was to be the gunman. He said he recognised the man but he was too frightened to reveal his identity due to the fear of repercussions.
Mr Woodcock asked: "As he got in the car (the gunman) did you see a gun?"
Chapman responded: "No."
Mr Woodcock replied: "As he got out of the car did you notice anything about him?"
Chapman said: "Yes I saw him put something down his pants which looked like a gun." Chapman added he then heard his co-accused Giles shout "Ryan" outside of Mr Carr's address.
Mr Woodcock then asked: "Did the name Ryan mean anything to you?" Chapman replied: "No it did not."
Chapman said he was not aware that his taxi sign had been removed from his cab, and that he did not tell Giles or the gunman to remove it.
He told jurors he "couldn't wait to get away" after he realised what had happened at the house and he told Giles he was not happy with him afterwards.
The trial continues.