A SUSPECTED murderer used a false name and fled to America to avoid police after a fatal shooting, a court heard.

Terrence 'Jeff' Allamby died after he was shot in the chest twice at Morriss Court on September 29 in 1996.

Howard Patterson denies murder and told a jury at Reading Crown Court he was visiting friends in Isleworth on the day of the shooting.

The 52-year-old - who used the alias Vincent Richards while he lived in New York - said he was 'scared' and 'perplexed' when a friend told him about what had happened.

Emergency services were called to Newtown at around 8pm after gunfire was heard at the flat, which was known to the police as a prolific drug ring.

Patterson said: "I am not the gunman. I have no idea why people would say I am, but they must have their reasons."

Earlier in the trial, Henroy Dryden gave evidence and accused Patterson of shooting his 'best friend' and said he would have been killed if he had not taken a gun and strapped it around his waist.

Errinton Marks - also known as Tymal - was jailed for life in May 1997 for ordering the killing after an argument broke out over bringing 'smack' into their operation.

Mr Dryden said: "I felt a sharp pain across my stomach and I also went down to the floor because I thought I had been hit. I saw Jeff convulsing.

"I pulled him into the kitchen and phoned for an ambulance. Jeff never had a chance. The man pulled the trigger and Jeff went down.

"I didn't even think Jeff had been hit but when I turned him over I saw blood coming from his chest.

"Jeff and Tymal have been at each other's throats for months because Tymal wanted to bring cocaine in, but we didn't want anything to do with it."

Police traced Patterson in the US after he was arrested for trespassing and he was extradited from the country before being detained at Heathrow Airport in March.

Patterson is charged with one count of murder, another of attempted murder of Mr Dryden, and carrying a firearm with intent to endanger life.

The trial, being overseen by Judge Johanna Cutts, continues.