TWO of the men facing trial for affray in minutes leading up to the death of Luke Jobson have pleaded guilty to the charge on the day it was due to start.

The popular 22-year-old engineering student went missing following a night out in Yarm last January when he tried to flee a potential violent confrontation.

His body was later recovered from the River Tees near Yarm School a few days later after a comprehensive search of the area.

The Northern Echo: Luke JobsonLuke Jobson

Edwin Taha, of Lavender Way, Norton, entered his plea before the trial was opened at Teesside Crown Court.

At an earlier hearing, a court heard how the 20-year-old was accused of squirting pepper spray into the eyes of Mr Jobson after the gang caught up with him near Yarm School following a chase along the High Street.

The Northern Echo: Edwin TahaEdwin Taha

Ali Abdulmajieed, of Corvus Drive, central Stockton, also changed his plea to guilty before a jury was sworn in to hear the case.

The 19-year-old was the driver of the car which was used to pursue Mr Jobson as he ran away and attempted to escape the gang.

The charges against Ryan Alpay, 19, of Duneside, Elm Tree, Stockton, and Hammad Asif, 18, of Osborne Road, Stockton, were not to be pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said: “Regarding the two outstanding defendants, the charges will be left to remain on file and we will not seek to try them.”

A teenager, who was 17-years-old at the time of his sentencing so cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced on Wednesday, June 24 after pleading guilty affray.

In March this year, his barrister James Bourne-Arton said: “He’s pleaded guilty to following the deceased in an aggressive manner in a vehicle, getting out but thereafter the end of his involvement.

“I think it’s the act of pursuing and getting out of the vehicle he’s accepted is his unlawful actions that evening.”

Taha and Abdulmajieed will return to court next month to be sentenced.

The Northern Echo: Police at the scene where Luke Jobson's body was recovered from the River Tees. Picture: NORTH NEWSPolice at the scene where Luke Jobson's body was recovered from the River Tees. Picture: NORTH NEWS

Judge Howard Crowson praised the family of Mr Jobson for their patience throughout the court proceedings.

He said: "I don't want them to think that we are not thinking about then and they will be much more focused upon now that the guilty pleas have been entered.

"This was the culmination of what happened on the night that Luke died."

Judge Crowson released the pair on conditional bail to return to the same court on October 30 for sentence.

"I will sentence the two defendants who need sentencing. Edwin Taha doesn't need a pre-sentence report but Ali Abdulmajieed does," he added.

Addressing Mr Alpay and Mr Asif, the judge said: "The prosecution have taken a just decision in that they will not pursue you now. The charges will be left on your file."

Speaking at the time of his death, Luke's mother Lisa Jobson said: "We're proud of everything he's done and everything he is.

"We want to celebrate him – we just want to say a massive thanks to

everybody and we want everybody to remember him for the good."

The Northern Echo: Luke Jobson's parents, Lisa and Stuart, with a picture of their son as a young boyLuke Jobson's parents, Lisa and Stuart, with a picture of their son as a young boy

In January last year, hundreds of members of the public gathered alongside Mr Jobson’s family in Yarm town centre as a celebration of his life.

More than 200 individual pieces of ribbon had been tied to the railings of Yarm Wharf, whilst hundreds more were tied to railings and lamppost’s nearby.

The Northern Echo: Hundreds of ribbons tied to railings in memory of Luke JobsonHundreds of ribbons tied to railings in memory of Luke Jobson