Prosecuter Simon Morgan told the jury at Exeter crown court: “This case is all about a decision by a group of individuals, of whom these defendants are two, to rob and kill Joss Stone.

“That is not a phrase I have plucked from the air. It is used in documents written…during the planning stages of this plot. We don’t know who the others are but that does not matter. Your concern is whether these two were part of the plot. It doesn’t matter what part they took or planned to take.”

He added: “The offence is committed as soon as agreement is reached. It is actually not necessary to do anything to carry out the agreement.

“In this case these defendants did do something to put the conspiracy into effect. They got a car, they collected their weapons of choice and they made their way by car from Manchester to within a short distance of Joss Stone’s house. They were arrested in Cullompton on their way to Ashill, where she lived.

“Joss Stone is an extremely wealthy young woman. These defendants drove from Manchester to find her. Fortunately they were not successful, although she was at home. They were reported by eagle-eyed people of small communities surrounding Cullompton.”

The judge said he expected there would be widespread media coverage of the trial, so jury members were reminded not to discuss the case outside their number or to research the case on the internet. 

The accused pair, who are from Manchester, plead not guilty to conspiring together with a person or persons unknown to murder Joss Stone. They also deny conspiring to cause grievous bodily harm to the singer, now aged 26, and conspiring to rob her.

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