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Braintree double murder - Don't let Oakes fool you, QC warns jury in trial

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: May 10, 2012

  • David Oakes

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THE prosecution in the trial of double murder suspect David Oakes urged the jury not to be fooled by his lies as both sides gave their closing speeches.

But his defence team told Chelmsford Crown Court that it was impossible to say exactly what went on amid "the mayhem in that hell on earth".

The 50-year-old is accused of gunning down ex-partner Christine Chambers, 38, and their two-year-old daughter Shania at her home in Bartram Avenue, Braintree, in the early hours of June 6 last year.

Earlier in the case Oakes, of Steeple, near Maldon, claimed Christine had shot their baby daughter and then shot him in the face during the course of a struggle.

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But prosecutor Orlando Pownall QC urged them not to let the 6ft 2in former bouncer "pull the wool over your eyes".

The prosecution alleges that Oakes subjected his ex-lover to a three-hour "humiliating" attack where he cut her with blades, punched her in the face and forced her to cut off pieces of her hair.

He then shot her three times in the legs and stomach before executing their baby Shania, prosecutors claim.

"You can be sure that the defendant and the defendant alone was responsible for the deaths of his former partner and his daughter," said the Mr Pownall.

Mr Pownall urged the jury to reject the idea that Shania was shot accidentally – or deliberately – by Christine.

"He was the aggressor," said the prosecutor. "When he shot Christine Chambers she posed no threat. Two out of the three shots fired at her were when she lay helplessly on the ground."

Oakes was discovered by paramedics lying on Christine Chamber's bloodied bed with a gaping shotgun wound to his left cheek.

Mr Pownall described Oakes' relationship with Christine, known to friends as Chrissie, as a "love-hate" relationship and said sentiments of this love mutated into "hate" in the early hours of June 6.

"On the evidence he is guilty of the murder of Christine and Shania," he added.

Earlier, he told the jury that Oakes had become "fixated" with his ex-partner of six years after she decided to leave him and fight for custody of their two-year-old daughter. A custody hearing was scheduled on the morning of the killings.

"He had threatened to harm the children before," said the prosecutor. "He had harmed Christine before and he had harmed himself. He had threatened to kill himself before.

Mr Pownall told the jury that they could be sure that Oakes had brought the gun and an arsenal of tools to the terraced house and had aimed for "destruction".

He rubbished suggestions that the gun was already in the house when Mr Oakes arrived at midnight and that the defendant had sold her the weapon.

Mr Pownall conceded that the prosecution was not sure of the exact order of the shots but said it was certain that Shania was not shot first and that the defendant tried to kill himself.

Mr Pownall said: "He knew he had reached the point of no return and was never going to see Shania again, having done the things he had done to Christine Chambers. So he decided to kill Shania and kill himself. If he could not have Shania then no one else could. He picked her up, lifted her over the gate and shot her at point blank range."

The defence, meanwhile, also completed their closing statements on Tuesday and tried to paint a picture of a fractious relationship where both Christine and Oakes "gave as good as they got".

"The two of them had a relationship that was far from a consistently peaceful or idyllic one," said defence counsel Nigel Lithman QC.

"I would not jump to the conclusion that all of the violence was caused by David Oakes. There is no evidence that Christine Chambers wanted to end Shania's life and neither is there a jot of evidence that Mr Oakes did. His case is, frankly, that he did not shoot his daughter Shania. He wants the world to know he did not shoot her."

Mr Lithman admitted that Oakes was guilty of "terrible, abominable behaviour" in the past but suggested to the jury that he was just as unlikely to harm his daughter as Christine was.

The jury was expected to retire yesterday afternoon to consider a verdict.

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