Fleetwood man told victim 'I'll attack all your family' before hunting him down and stabbing him in alleyway

Fleetwood man Rhys Austin armed himself with a hammer and a knife, hunted down and stabbed dad-of-one Danny Wise to death in an alleyway after sending him threatening text messages, a court has heard.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 4:28 pm
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 5:06 pm
Victim: Danny Wise
Victim: Danny Wise

Fleetwood man Rhys Austin armed himself with a hammer and a knife before hunting down and stabbing dad-of-one Danny Wise to death in an alleyway after sending him threatening text messages, a court has heard.

Austin, 23, of Broadwater Avenue, tricked Danny Wise into thinking he had disarmed by dropping a hammer in the middle of the road before challenging him to a fight in an alley off Mowbray Place on June 24 last year, prosecutor Tim Evans said.

But when Mr Wise approached him, Austin took a 12-inch knife out of his waistband and stabbed him once in the neck.

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Rhys Austin

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he died of his injury.

In Preston Crown Court today, Austin denied charges of murder and manslaughter. He claimed to have no memory of the killing due to being under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time.

A jury heard how, in the hours leading up to the incident, which happened at around 8am, Austin and Mr Wise had exchanged threatening text messages. Austin suspected Mr Wise was pursuing his girlfriend, Leoni Harris.

At 1.29am he texted: “It's Rhys, come see me, if you think I won’t do something you’re f***ing wrong.”

Four hours later he added: “Think you can get Leoni? I’ll attack all your family, silly boy.”

Mr Wise responded: “I’ve got a job, you unemployed little rat.You wait until I bump into you on the street.”

At 6.45am, Austin texted a friend simply: “Kill Danny Wise.”

Around 15 minutes later he was caught on CCTV leaving his friend’s Chatsworth Avenue home, getting on his bike and riding to a building site on Mowbray Place where Mr Wise worked. He entered the building, picked up a plank of wood and told people there he was looking for Mr Wise, before returning to his friend's house using a shortcut.

Continued CCTV footage showed Austin and Ms Harris apparently engaged in an argument outside the property, with Ms Harris attempting to push Austin back inside.

At around 7.45am Austin left the house armed with a hammer and a knife, and was accompanied by his friend, Shaun Sullivan. The two got onto their bikes and tried to ride away, but crashed into each other and fell to the ground outside the house. Ms Harris picked up the knife, but Austin took it from her and put it in his waistband.

The pair set off towards the building site via Beach Road, where Mr Sullivan decided to go back home.

Austin arrived at the building site at 7.59am. At 8.01am Mr Wise arrived at the scene in a friend's car and Austin walked into the road in front of the vehicle, challenging him.

He said: "I can't really remember what was being said. It was just a 'let's go' kind of thing."

Austin then took the hammer out of his pocket and placed it in the middle of the road, which Mr Evans said was a deliberate ruse to make Mr Wise believe he was no longer armed.

Mr Wise then followed Austin out of sight into a nearby alleyway. Five seconds later, a number of Mr Wise's work colleagues who had been at the scene ran in after him. It is believed Mr Wise had already been stabbed by that point.

Mr Evans said: "You didn't take a beating from Mr Wise, did you?"

Austin replied: "I remember him coming at me with punches."

Mr Evans said: "But that's what you have agreed, isn't it? You have agreed to have a row. And this isn't a 15-round boxing match, this is a matter of seconds. you weren't severely beaten by Mr Wise in a matter of five seconds, were you?

"There just isn't sufficient time available for you to have taken a beating. You must have gotten the knife out almost immediately."

Austin accepted that this must have been the case, but said he could not remember.

Mr Evans said Austin's actions that morning showed a clear intention to seriously harm Mr Wise.

He said: "I suggest that all along it had been your plan to stab Mr Wise, and part of that plan is that wicked trick of pretending - there's the hammer, look, I've got nothing on me. That was a trick that you played on him, to trick him into thinking it was going to be a fair fight.

"You knew you were going to stab Danny Wise. We have heard witness evidence to that effect. A number of them have said you said 'I'm going to stab him', 'I'm going to slit his throat', 'I've got a 12-inch knife'. That was your plan and you carried it out. 'Kill Danny Wise', as you had posted, and that's what you did - deliberately and intentionally."

He alleged that Austin did in fact have memory of the killing as he was capable of riding his bike one-handed and navigating the streets, but that he was choosing to withhold the truth from the jury as it 'would prove him to be a murderer'.

The trial continues.