A Burnley man accused of murder has told a jury that his co-accused carried out the fatal stabbing.
Gary Burley admitted he had started the violence which culminated in the death of 60-year-old Keith Passmore, but insisted Paul Howarth actually killed him.
Liverpool Crown Court has heard police found the body of Mr Passmore, who had been repeatedly stabbed and beaten, after Howarth told an ex-partner the victim had been killed.
She went with Howarth and Burley to Howarth’s blood-stained flat in Clifton Road, Burnley, and after seeing the body was then allegedly threatened by Burley with a multi-tool with a hammer attachment but she rang 999.
Forty-eight-year-old Howarth and Burley (45), of Herbert Street, Burnley, who like the victim had a drink problem, have both pleaded not guilty to murder.
Howarth has told the court he cannot remember what happened and implied Burley was the killer.
Burley told the jury a heated argument began with Mr Passmore over an iPad which Mr Passmore had exchanged in a local shop for cans of lager.
He said when he suggested he got the iPad back Mr Passmore told him it was none of his business and clenched his fist. “I hit him on the left side of his forehead. It was a reaction to him pulling his fist back. He went down on the bed. I went over and he threw two punches at me, I hit him twice. I kicked him in the head.”
He said he had not really intended to hurt him and Howarth then began punching Mr Passmore to the side. “He sat on the bed next to him and started punching him seven or eight times. Paul got up and punched him a further two, three, four times. He said ‘you’ve got no principles’.
“He walked out of the bedroom and straight into the kitchen and came back with a knife.”
Burley said Mr Passmore was just lifting his T-shirt up to mop the blood from his brow and had his head down when Howarth stabbed him in the chest.
Asked by his barrister Anthony Cross QC if he had wanted him to stab the victim he replied, “no.”
“Paul stabbed him a further twice to his chest area I went ‘whoa f…ing hell’ and ran out of the bedroom.”
He told the jury Howarth pulled the victim off the bed by his legs and stamped on his head and then pulled him by his arms towards the kitchen. He then kicked and stamped on his head again.
He claimed he pushed Howarth off and grabbed the knife blade and the knife broke. “Paul picked the blade up and stabbed him in the chest. He knocked it in with his fist. That knocked me sick. He pulled it out of his chest and stabbed him again.
“He jumped up and turned round to get scissors off the work top and stabbed him further with the scissors really fast up his side.”
Burley also claimed that after again stamping on Mr Passmore’s head Howarth got him to help drag him to the bathroom and put him in the bath. “He went out and came back with a sock. He cupped my face and told me, ‘Are you a man or a little girl?’
“He wrapped the sock around his hand and turned the shower on and washed him down. He was in white boxers. Paul propped the shower into Keith’s shoulder.”
Burley said he pointed out, ‘You’ve got a f…ing dead man in your bath’. Howarth told him to wash blood off his face and said, ‘you are are a little girl.’
Howarth got another knife and Burley said he said,’what’s happened?’ He told me to shut and seemed pretty cool about it.”
Howarth then locked him in the flat while he went to a nearby shop in Padiham Road, which Howarth had earlier visited more than once that day to buy alcohol. After he returned they went to Howarth’s ex-girlfriend Kathleen Green.
“My plan was I was going to get some heroin and go to my brother’s and tell him what had happened. I needed heroin as bad as it gets.”
When Ms Green saw the body she called Howarth “a psycho” and pointed out the victim “has got family.”
Cross-examined he denied he had threatened Ms Green and also disputed her claim that he had said to her, ‘my daughter cannot know I’m a murderer.’ “I didn’t say that, she’s a liar,” he claimed.
Andrew Thomas QC (defending Howarth) suggested to him, ‘You stabbed Keith Passmore.’ “No, I didn’t.”
“You have lied to try to put both weapons in his (Howarth’s) hands,” said Mr Thomas. “No, that happened,” said Burley.
The case continues