A DAD-of-one who was shot dead in a suspected drugs dispute led a ‘double life’ unbeknownst to his partner and closest friends, a court has heard.
Michael Blake, pictured, from Westhoughton, was ‘kneecapped’ and then shot in the back of the head in an isolated lane in Westhoughton in November last year, after being picked up by men in a white van, Manchester Crown Court was told yesterday.
But police investigations into the 28-year-old’s death uncovered a machete in his home, in Manchester Road, as well as a bulletproof vest, a balaclava and a ‘substantial’ quantity of cocaine in his car.
Mr Blake’s partner of six years, Lauren Sydall wept as she was questioned about the circumstances surround his death, including the revelations about the criminal paraphernalia linked to him.
Lewis Power QC, defending Nathan Daniels, the man accused of Mr Blake’s murder, asked Miss Sydall about a statement she gave to police in December last year.
In her statement she had said: “I was not aware Michael had been involved in any criminality but you don’t get shot for nothing.”
Asked to elaborate on what she meant by this she told the court: “The fact he had been obviously killed, it doesn’t just happen to somebody in the way he got picked up and brought back like that. I wondered if there was something else going on I wasn’t aware of.”
Mr Power had also quizzed Miss Sydall on Mr Blake’s secretive nature.
Asked if she ever felt he was leading a ‘double life’ she said ‘not to the best of my knowledge’.
But she admitted her partner did not talk to her about his problems in his life and held things back.
She also admitted she had ‘no idea’ if Mr Blake - known as Blakey - trusted her with ‘everything going on in his life’.
The court was also told how Ms Sydall had learned that on the night her partner died he had phoned his friend Jordan Davies, after he had got in the Transit van and been driven away from his home.
She had also found out that while on the phone to Mr Davies, her partner had been asking if he knew where a man called Scott Byrne lived.
But Mr Davies had only been able to tell him that he knew the area, but not the full address.
She said: “Yes, I was wondering why he felt the need to call 999. I was asking what he heard.”
Mr Blake’s best friend, Reece Amos, also took to the stand. The pair had been close friends for years. Mr Amos is godfather to Mr Blake’s daughter and had secured him a job with his father’s firm, PPS Commercials.
He said the pair would confide in each other but didn’t tell each other ‘all their business.
Mr Amos continued: “We did tell each other things, he was a bit of closed person. He didn’t like putting stress on other people, he was always happy, very positive.”
Asked by Mr Power if the revelations about the machete, drugs and body armour had shocked him he said: “If that was a side (to him) it had nothing to do with how he was with me or how he was at work, so yes I was shocked.
“That’s not the Blakey I know and the person I called my closest friend.”
Mr Amos also told the court he had spoken to Jordan Davies in the fortnight after Mr Blake’s death. Mr Davies had told him he heard arguing, and men with Manchester accents asking ‘where is the road’.
Mr Blake and Ms Sydall were also very close friends with neighbours Adam and Christie Hickey.
Mr Hickey had called Ms Sydall to check everything was okay on the night Mr Blake died, after spotting the white van being driven in a suspicious manner, before stopping outside their home.
He also told the court he was shocked by the details that suggested Mr Blake was involved in selling drugs.
The trial continues.