South East Wales

Aamir Siddiqi: Jason Richards denies murdering 17-year-old

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Media captionJason Richards, 38, who the trial was told has a string of previous convictions, told the jury he used drugs to 'just get by'

A drug user has denied brutally stabbing to death a promising student in the doorway of his home in a bungled contract killing.

Jason Richards told Swansea Crown Court he did not murder Aamir Siddiqi, 17, and also denies trying to murder his parents who tried to protect their son.

Mr Richards, 38, who has a string of previous convictions, told the jury he used drugs to "just get by".

Ben Hope, 39, also denies murder and attempted murder.

John Charles Rees QC, defending Mr Richards, asked him: "I may as well ask you straight away, you are charged with the murder of Aamir Siddiqi and the attempted murder of his parents - did you murder Aamir Siddiqi?"

Father-of-two Mr Richards, of North Road in Cardiff, replied: "No, I never."

Mr Rees then asked if Mr Richards was one of the two men who had "burst in" to Aamir's home on Ninian Road, Roath, and attacked him and his parents in April 2010.

Mr Richards replied: "No, I was not."

The court heard that Mr Richards, who has six step-brothers and one sister, began taking drugs at the age of 16.

Prison sentences

He said it was while serving an 18-month prison sentence in 2004 for causing actual bodily harm (ABH) to his former wife, that he became a heroin addict.

Mr Richards told the jury that prison was "rife" with the drug and by the time of his release he needed to inject the class A substance - as well as smoke crack cocaine and snort cocaine - in order to function properly.

He said: "I tried to get off it many times. My mother tried helping me, my brother tried... they even took me out of the country."

But Mr Richards failed to kick his habit despite managing to set up his own repairs garage in 2009 - called J Richards Pitstop Perfectionist, in Dumballs Road.

Earlier, Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, read out a number of Mr Richards' previous convictions to the jury.

Image caption Aamir Siddiqi was stabbed in the hallway of his family home in Roath

They included a 27-month sentence in 1996 for punching a man who fell and fractured his skull in Caroline Street, Cardiff.

In December 2001, Mr Richards received a drug treatment and testing order after being charged with causing ABH for gouging a security guard's eye.

The jury was also told Mr Richards had served a number of other prison sentences for offences including ABH, intimidating a witness, possessing a weapon and affray.

Referring to the previous convictions which had been read out, Mr Rees asked Mr Richards: "Are you proud of them?"

"No I am not," the defendant replied.

Around four or five years ago Mr Richards was hit over the head with a hammer and his speech was affected by the injury, he said.

Describing his drug habit, Mr Richards told the jury: "I did not take drugs to get off my head, I took drugs just for a normal living life, just to get by."

Mr Richards said that the person he would most regularly buy drugs from was his 39-year-old co-defendant.

He said he would often leave items of clothing at Mr Hope's address in Richmond Road.

Another key area of the prosecution's case has been forensic evidence linking Mr Richards to a stolen silver Volvo XC90 - a car seen speeding off from the Siddiqis' home shortly after the stabbing.

However, Mr Richards insisted he had not driven the car that day, but driven as a favour for a friend around a week before the killing.

The court was also told, at the time relevant to the trial, Mr Richards was waiting for £5,000 in compensation for a bike crash.

He said he had already received £500 of this amount in advance as well as £3,800 for his bike.

The court earlier heard that the teenager's parents were left bleeding badly after trying to tackle their son's balaclava-clad killers.

Aamir's father, Iqbal Ahmad, has told the trial how his son's killers pushed their way into the family home and attacked the teenager "indiscriminately", without seeing who their victim was.

Image caption It is claimed the defendants went to the wrong house in Roath, Cardiff

The prosecution claims Mr Richards and Mr Hope had been paid by a businessman, angry because a property deal had collapsed, to kill his chosen victim in the Roath suburb of Cardiff.

But the pair were said to have gone by mistake to the Siddiqi family home around the corner in Ninian Road instead, showing "staggering incompetence".

Aamir had been upstairs in his bedroom awaiting the arrival of the imam for a Koran lesson.

He came downstairs on hearing the doorbell and opened the door, the court heard.

The jury has seen CCTV footage showing Mr Hope allegedly spending the proceeds of the crime in a shop.

The trial continues.

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