A TEENAGE drug runner stabbed two men – one of them fatally – as they attempted to rob him, a court heard.

Carl Hopkins, 49, was found dead slumped up against a fence in Ryegate Road, Colchester, by an early morning dogwalker in February.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard he had been among a gang of six homeless people who had planned to steal from a 17-year-old drug dealer in Colchester town centre.

The group, who were desperate for money, had planned to steal from a shop but decided to target the dealer because they were angry he had sold Class A substances to a homeless teenager.

They arranged to meet him in a walkway off Maidenburgh Street nicknamed Graffiti Alley where a scuffle ensued.

Jon Birch, another of the homeless group, got the teenager in a headlock they fell to the floor, and the dealer stabbed him.

He is then said to have stabbed Mr Hopkins as he fled.

Mr Birch ran to a nearby snooker club in George Street for help and Mr Hopkins was able to get to Ryegate Road before he collapsed against a fence.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons because of his age, denies murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Opening the case, Tracy Ayling QC, prosecuting, explained that the robbery had gone wrong.

“A trail of his blood led up the alleyway, then from that alleyway another blood trail was discovered,” she said.

“That blood was from the defendant.

“Blood from Jon Birch was found further up the road.

“It is the prosecution’s case the defendant had stabbed both Mr Hopkins and Mr Birch following an attempt from them to steal drugs from him.

“Mr Birch recovered but Carl Hopkins died from his injuries.”

Several phone calls were exchanged between one of the homeless group and the drug suppliers to arrange a meet with the runner in an alleyway - an area notorious for dealing and not covered by CCTV cameras.

Ms Ayling said the teenager said he had been attacked by two men - one with a balaclava thought to be Mr Hopkins - and one without - thought to be Mr Birch.

She said: “Jon Birch had the defendant in a headlock.

“He was about to rob the defendant and said words to the affect of ‘What is this about you selling drugs to underage kids?’.

“In response to this, the defendant stabbed Mr Birch.

“It is the prosecution’s case he had a knife as part of the tools of his trade dealing drugs on the street.

“How Carl Hopkins was stabbed is not entirely clear.

“The defendant says the man with the balaclava came at him and they came together while the defendant was waving the knife.”

Police were able to piece together the movements of the defendant and the homeless group with CCTV and phone analysis.

The boy remained in Colchester until just after noon the next day until he was taken to Hackney in a taxi.

CCTV showed he had been in Colchester for several days before the incident took place.

He was arrested a few days later close to his home address in London.

n The trial - which is being overseen by Judge Patricia Lynch QC and is expected to last three weeks - continues.