A TEENAGER denied being in Essex on the night a man was killed by a flare thrown into his car because his “geography is very poor”, a court heard.

The 16-year-old is on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court and denies the manslaughter of Vilson Meshi, 30, and stealing marine distress flares.

Keani Hobbs, 18, of Stagden Cross, Pitsea, denies the same charges.

The court heard the youth, who lives in London, had been staying in Basildon on February 26 last year, the day before the dad-of-three was found dead in the back of his Audi A4 in Pincey Mead.

When he was arrested in July, he told police: “I consider myself a London boy and I have no friends in Essex.

“I was, and still am, in complete shock about this situation. I am only 15 years old and I am in no way capable of doing such things.”

But at a later interview, he made another statement, though his solicitor.

He said: “I was not aware that the area was called Essex. I have learning difficulties, I can’t read or write. I would also like to point out that my geography is very poor and limited to London.”

He made no comment to further questions. A statement from Keani Hobbs was also read out.

She said: “I don’t know anything about his murder. I didn’t commit a burglary at Wat Tyler Marina and I have never been in possession of any flares.”

The court heard further accusations about the involvement of Melanie Hobbs, Keani’s mother, who is not on trial.

A statement from Det Con Dan Jordan was read out, in which he described a conversation he had with the 16-year-old boy’s father.

He said Melanie Hobbs had burnt the pair’s clothes and thrown Mr Meshi’s phone and car keys off a bridge on Canvey.

He said she had also been present when the marine distress flare was stolen from Wat Tyler Marina.

The man said his son had been with Keani Hobbs and a boy named Aaron but he told the officer Keani threw the flare into the car after saying “oh **** it”.

He said: “My son isn’t going to take the blame for something that she has done”.

The trial continues.