A father-to-be hacked to death in his bedroom by killers posing as police had told friends he feared he would be murdered in the days before the attack. 

Danny Gough, 24, grew increasingly nervous and spoke almost every day of a plot to kill him after receiving "blood-curdling" threats from an enemy, a court heard. 

Steven Dougherty, 36, Sam Monteith, 33, and Paul West, 30, are accused of hacking Mr Gough to death with an axe, a machete and a sword on December 14, 2010.

Father-to-be Danny Gough 'hacked to death by fake police with an axe in revenge killing

They are accused of bursting into Mr Gough's house in Stockbury Road, Woodside, and slaughtering him in front of his pregnant girlfriend in revenge for an attack on Mr Monteith a month earlier, in which Mr Gough had taken part.

The three allegedly sprayed ammonia in Mr Gough's face, as well as into the eyes of his girlfriend and her mother, before killing him "to show they were not to be trifled with".

Mark Heywood, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey yesterday afternoon that Mr Gough had been plagued by fears that Mr Monteith, of Brighton Road, Sutton, and Mr Dougherty, of Essex, were plotting his death.

Your Local Guardian: Stephen Dougherty denies murder

Steven Dougherty is accused of plotting Danny Gough's murder

The prosecutor said: "He told his family that he did not trust anyone and  that he had heard someone had be offered £5,000 to kill him.

"He was jumpy and on edge. He was no doubt conscious that there was a price on head."

The court heard Mr Gough had been given a Mercedes-Benz by the father of his friend Leanne Meredith "for stabbing someone" and, expecting revenge, tried to sell the car and parked it out of sight.

Mr Heywood told the jury: "He said he was expecting retaliation from two individuals, who he named as Steven Dougherty and Sam Monteith. He said they were looking not just to harm him but to kill him."

The court heard that the day after the attack on Mr Monteith, in which Mr Gough and two other men broke into his home and slashed him with a knife, Mr Dougherty made threats of violence to Mr Gough in texts.

In one Mr Dougherty wrote: "Tell that Fat Leanne she's started something you ain't big enough to handle."

In another, he said: "I'm going to spend 20g putting you all over the place". 

Mr Heywood said the three alleged killers had carried out "reconnaissance" in the days before the murder, scoping out the home Mr Gough shared with his girlfriend, Kareena Modashia, as well as his former house in Addiscombe.

The prosecutor added whoever slayed Mr Gough had also tracked his movements on Facebook, on which he wrote two days before his death: "Had a great weekend in Brighton, heading home to wifey". 

He said Mr Dougherty and Mr Monteith had plotted the killing and recruited Mr West as an accomplice.

The court heard the three burst into Mr Gough's house in the early hours of the morning, shouting "police", then sprayed ammonia in his face, threw him to the floor and hacked him to death.

They are said to have stopped only when one of the three said: "He's dead."

Mr Heywood said: "This vicious, extreme violence had a purpose. It was motivated by revenge and by the need to send a message - a message that these men were not to be trifled with."

Mr Monteith, Mr Dougherty and Mr West, from Slough, all deny murder.

The trial continues.