A BALLISTICS expert told a murder trial he could find no evidence that the bullets retrieved from the body of a shooting victim had ricocheted before killing him.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Nathan Daniels, who has denied murdering Westhoughton man Michael Blake, claimed a handgun went off during a violent struggle in the back of a van and the bullet ricocheted before hitting the victim.

Daniels, aged 28, of Nottingham Avenue, Stockport, along with Nathan Quigley and Joe Wilson, had picked up Mr Blake, from his Manchester Road, in a Transit van and driven him to an isolated area near an industrial estate, in Long Lane.

The prosecution claims Mr Blake, aged 28, was shot in the head and knee while in the van, before being dumped back outside his home bleeding heavily from his head.

He died from the gunshot to his head the following morning.

Khaldoun Kabbai, a forensic scientist who specialises in firearms, told the court there was nothing to suggest that either the bullet that killed Mr Blake or the one which caused the injury to his leg had ricocheted before hitting him.

Asked by prosecutor Andrew Thomas if the condition of the bullet recovered from Mr Blake’s skull was ‘consistent with a direct shot to Michael Blake’s head, he said: “I have not seen evidence on the bullet or the body that suggests the bullet has ricocheted.”

He told the court he would expect the bullet to have been more deformed and to have picked up paint from the surfaces if it had done so.

And he insisted he was ‘not happy’ with describing the shot as a ricochet when pressed by defence counsel Lewis Power QC.

But Philip Boyce, a forensic scientist and firearms expert called by the defence refused to rule out the possibility of a ricochet, despite Mr Thomas describing the story as ‘ludicrous’.

He told the jury: “It’s possible the bullet ricocheted at least once, possibly hitting two surfaces prior to striking Mr Blake and it is possible the gun was not pointing towards Mr Blake when the shot was discharged.”

The trial continues at Manchester Crown Court.