Secret police bug captured boy's parents discussing Pitsea death of Vilson Meshi, prosecutor claims at manslaughter trial

By Charles Thomson in Crime

A SECRET listening device captured a boy’s parents discussing details of his alleged crimes, a court has heard.

The trial over the death of Vilson Meshi, 30, in Pitsea last year, kicked off at Chelmsford Crown Court this morning. A jury was selected and sworn in yesterday afternoon.

Mr Meshi’s body was found in the back of his fire-damaged black Audi A4 in Pincey Mead on February 27 last year.

The Crown says the defendants set light to his car with a stolen marine flare.

Keani Hobbs, 18, of Stagden Cross, Basildon, is charged with manslaughter and the theft of six flares, worth £99, earlier that month.

A 16-year-old boy from London - granted anonymity by a court-imposed gagging order, despite standing trial as a co-defendant in the adult court - is also charged with manslaughter and theft.

Prosecutor David Matthew told jurors that Mr Meshi had travelled from his home in Derbyshire, where he ran a car wash business, to visit his two children in Basildon.

He was due to look after his children on the Saturday morning while his ex-parter Michelle Mehtab visited a mortuary with her mother, so he drove down on the Friday night and decided to sleep in his car under a blanket.

Mr Matthew told the court: "Vilson Meshi was killed on Saturday, February 27, last year. It was just after 2am.

"He was killed as he was sleeping in his car and he was killed because a flare was put into the car, and the heat and the smoke of the flare killed him.

"It was a marine distress flare. That’s the sort of flare that you use if you are on a boat.

"They are made to work and to be seen in driving rain and spray in a storm at sea. They are far too powerful to be put into a closed car. Put into a closed car, this one killed."

Police were called the following afternoon to reports of an unusual car, with blacked out windows, parked in Pincey Mead, but as it was a ’low grade’ incident the force simply dispatched some local PCSOs.

When the PCSOs found the window frames were partially melted, they called the fire service.

At first believing there may have been a suicide inside the vehicle and then, after finding two child seats inside, fearing children may have died in the incident as well, police and firefighters smashed their way into the car and removed items, possibly disturbing some evidence, Mr Matthew told jurors.

It was ’a pity’, he said, "but we are looking at it in retrospect."

Mr Meshi’s body was found cold inside.

The emergency services discovered the seat of the fire had been in one of the child seats and the blaze had caused significant damage to the front seats of the car.

A flare was found on the ground after the car was initially searched. Its cap was found in a nearby alleyway.

Police obtained footage from three residents’ CCTV cameras, which picked up a hooded figure on a bicycle trying the door handles on parked cars close to Mr Meshi’s, roughly half an hour before Mr Meshi’s Audi was set ablaze, said Mr Matthew.

The figure was carrying a Nike bag.

Identical bags were found inside the two defendants’ homes, he said.

An expert identified the bicycle in the CCTV as a ’Zombie Crypt’ model and compared it to a bicycle found at Keani Hobbs’ home in Stagden Cross.

Mr Matthew told jurors: "It is plainly an identical sort of bicycle and with the reflectors that have been added, it seems to be a pretty unique type of bicycle and matches entirely the bicycle on the CCTV."

Both were arrested in July last year. The boy told police he had been in London throughout February, caring for his mother and helping his father.

He said he was ’a London boy’ with no connections in Basildon.

But analysis of the boy’s mobile phone usage showed he had used it close to Pincey Mead on February 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 26 and 27 last year, said Mr Matthew.

A secret listening device placed in the boy’s father’s car captured his parents plotting to blame the incident on a third person, the prosecutor continued.

The boy’s mother said on the recording: "I know it sounds cruel, but if anything comes up... you’ve got to get them two to pin it all on that boy."

The boy’s father added: "All they’ve got to say is that they didn’t know he was going to throw it in the car - ’We knew he had that but we didn’t know he was going to do that and we all ran off in panic’."

They then discussed how flares had been stolen from a boat at ’a marina’ near Wat Tyler Country Park, said Mr Matthew.

The boy’s mother could be heard by the bug saying: "He said he had something in the car. He’s got one of them. I took it out. I panicked."

Mr Matthew said police probing Mr Meshi’s death learned a man had reported six Icarus marine flares stolen from his boat at Pitsea Marina.

The prosecutor told the court: "That’s the make and model of the flares that were found on the ground around Mr Meshi’s car."

The trial continues.