Hailsham dad died after arranging fight between rival gangs, court hears

Darren Croxton died of serious injuries after he was stabbed.
Darren Croxton died of serious injuries after he was stabbed.

A Hailsham dad who organised fights between rival gangs died after being stabbed three times.

Darren Croxton, 26, died on January 23 last year from an injury he suffered the previous day, Lewes Crown Court heard today (Tuesday).

Stuart Johnson, 19, of no fixed abode, and a 17-year-old Hailsham youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denied his murder.

In the prosecution’s opening summary, barrister Philip Bennett said two fights were arranged to settle a scuffle which had taken place in Hellingly on January 21.

Mr Croxton organised them and two rival gangs met at woods, known as The Diplocks, at 4.30pm on January 22.

During one fight there was a scuffle between the youth, then 16, and Mr Croxton, according to the prosecution.

Mr Bennett said the defendant was seen making a stabbing motion and was holding a six to nine inch long ‘hunting or gutting’ knife with a 1in blade.

Mr Croxton had his hand on his thigh where he suffered the fatal injury and ‘looked completely shocked’, the court heard. Mr Croxton then ran off followed by a group of three people, including the 16-year-old and Johnson.

Mr Bennett said it was apparent from scientific evidence there was a further altercation.

The court heard that Mr Croxton climbed a fence into Bramble Drive where he asked a passer-by for help and an ambulance was called. Mr Croxton had surgery, but he died at 7am on January 23.

The post mortem examination revealed the fatal wound on his left thigh was 2cm across and 5-8cm deep and had cut through an artery. The wound led to haemorrhaging and cardiac arrest.

When interviewed by police, the youth, who had showered and washed his clothes immediately afterwards, claimed it was Mr Croxton who had a knife and waved it at him, so he tried to get him into a headlock.

He denied chasing Mr Croxton and said that as he had no injuries, he assumed Mr Croxton didn’t have any either.

Johnson’s t-shirt, stained with Mr Croxton’s blood, and baseball cap were found near a bin in the area, the court heard.

The youth told police he saw the other defendant and Mr Croxton ‘having a scuffle’. Mr Croxton ran off and climbedover the fence. He had not seen a knife and had no idea how Mr Croxton’s blood came to be on his T-shirt.

The trial continues.