Burnley murder case: defendant had ‘no memory’

The crime scene
The crime scene

A Burnley man accused of stabbing another man to death in his own flat has told a jury that he could not remember what had happened.

Paul Howarth, a heavy drinker, said that he remembered going to a local shop about 9 am that day and his next recollection was being in a police cell.

MUCH-LOVED: Keith Passmore (60) (S)

MUCH-LOVED: Keith Passmore (60) (S)

He is co-accused with Gary Burley with murdering 60-year-old Keith Passmore and during his evidence he implied that Burley was responsible for the death because he was the only other person present.

Liverpool Crown Court has heard that Mr Passmore was allegedly stabbed to death because he had swopped a tablet device for cans of beer instead of selling it.

He was allegedly severely beaten and repeatedly stabbed with a knife and large pair of scissors by the men who, like the victim, had a long history of alcohol abuse.

Howarth (48), of Clifton Road, Burnley, and Burley (45), of Herbert Street, Burnley, have both pleaded not guilty to murder.

I don’t think I did anything. I don’t know, I can’t imagine I would. I have never hurt anybody in my life and they are saying I killed someone. I am sorry he is dead, he was a good friend

Paul Howarth

Burley is also charged with threatening to kill Howarth’s ex-partner Kathleen Green and possessing an offensive weapon, a multi-tool with a hammer attachment.

Mr Cole said that Mr Passmore “died as a result of being subjected to a sustained and forceful assault during which he had been beaten with such force as to fracture bones in his face and he had been stabbed repeatedly with both a knife and scissors”.

At about 4-30 pm on Saturday, January 10th, the defendants went to visit Kathleen Green, Howarth’s ex-partner, at her sheltered accommodation at Woodtop, Harcourt Street, Burnley.

Howarth indicated that Mr Passmore had been killed and while she did not initially believe them she was eventually persuaded to go to Howarth’s flat. In the bathroom she saw the body of Mr Passmore, who lived in the flat above.

After she managed to leave she was allegedly threatened with being killed by Burley who threatened her with a multi-tool with a hammer attachment, alleged Mr Cole.

Police found the flat was heavily blood-stained and it appeared that the victim, who was only five foot four and a half inches tall had been attacked in the bedroom, subjected to further violence in the hallway/kitchen area before being moved to the bathroom and put in the bath where attempts were apparently made to clean up before being moved to the lounge.

He had suffered more than 30 stab wound, many centred around the neck and right shoulder and some had penetrated important veins including the jugular and one had severed his left vertebral artery, said Mr Cole.

Burley’s QC, Anthony Cross, questioned Howarth about his evidence and re-played part of his 999 call following the murder. Howarth was heard saying: “I just walked into the house and there is a guy dead in the front room.”

The operator was heard repeatedly asking whether he wanted the police or ambulance and Howarth told them “stop talking like a f…ing d…”.

Howarth denied that was the “real him” speaking. Asked if he was sorry for what he had done to the victim he replied, “I don’t think I did anything. I don’t know, I can’t imagine I would. I have never hurt any
body in my life and they are saying I killed someone. I am sorry he is dead, he was a good friend.”

He said that Burley had stayed overnight at his flat and in the morning given him a pill for his hangover. The court has heard that he was found to have a high proportion of alcohol in his blood and the pain killer Tramadol.

CCTV was replayed to the jury showing Howarth making several trips to a local shop and he said that he had no memory of them and disputed that he appeared sober in those visits.

Further questioned he said that he had no idea how the victim’s blood got on his clothing. “I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would hurt him.” But he added, “I cannot remember a thing.

“It looks like I had drunk three bottles of wine that day.”

Mr Cross suggested to him that while waiting for a video link court hearing from Forest Bank prison with Burley he was heard saying to Burley, “I’m throwing a guilty plea in, me.”

He disputed this and said he would not have said that as he was not guilty of murder.

The case continues.