A teenager today admitted murdering a 16-year-old boy who was stabbed near a Birmingham city centre bus stop.

Damien Belle, 18, pleaded guilty to the murder of Odwayne Barnes after changing his plea on the first day of a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Two other defendants, Nathaniel Darby, 20, of Wyrley Way, Erdington, and a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny murdering Odwayne outside Matthew Boulton College, on Jennens Road, on March 7.
Belle, of Heathway, Shard End, Birmingham, was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

Robert Juckes QC, opening the case for the prosecution, told the court that Odwayne was killed because he had fallen out with the 17-year-old defendant, and because he was a member of the wrong street gang.

On the afternoon of the attack, Odwayne and a friend, Leon Black, had bumped into the defendants by chance in New Street and fled in terror as soon as they recognised them.

Mr Juckes said two separate witnesses had reported seeing a young man matching Belle’s description chasing another young black man through the precinct of St Philip’s Cathedral while waving a knife.

Odwayne evaded his pursuers, the court heard, and reached a bus stop in outside the college.

"By the time he reached the bus stop," Mr Juckes said, "he must have thought he had escaped from this confrontation."

But soon afterwards, he went on, the defendants pulled up at the bus stop in Darby’s Volkswagen Polo.

"Nathaniel Darby ran and attacked Odwayne as he stood at the bus stop," he said.

"Odwayne Barnes was dragged from where he stood into the busy main road.

"Then the three of them set about him, and in the course of the assault he was stabbed twice."

Despite suffering "catastrophic" injuries to his heart, the teenager managed to flee the scene on foot before collapsing some distance away.

Darby’s brother, Lucien, is also on trial, accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The 18-year-old is alleged to have cleaned the Polo in an effort to destroy incriminating scientific evidence.

The court heard that during police interviews, the unnamed 17-year-old defendant claimed to be a member of a gang called the "Slash Crew" or "Slash for Money Crew", and said he had previously fallen out with Odwayne, who was a member of a rival gang called "Bang Bang".

The defendant told police he had heard that Odwayne had insulted him for being a member of the Slash Crew, and he said he had tried to telephone Odwayne to remonstrate with him.

The jury watched CCTV footage filmed around Birmingham city centre on the afternoon of the stabbing, part of which showed the defendants getting out of a blue Polo before running and attacking Odwayne.

During the attack, the court heard, Belle suffered a stab wound to his right buttock, and the prosecution say that as Odwayne was unarmed, this could only have been inflicted by one of the other defendants.

Mr Juckes told the jury that shortly before the attack on Odwayne, Belle had bought a lock-knife from a city centre shop, and had then returned with Nathaniel Darby and bought two more.

"There is no doubt that Damien Belle murdered Odwayne Barnes," Mr Juckes said.

"The case against the other two defendants is that either they were carrying knives themselves or knew one of the others was carrying a knife and might use it to lethal effect."

He said the position of Odwayne’s wounds - one to the chest and one to the shoulder - suggested that he had been attacked from in front and behind at the same time.

The trial continues on Thursday.