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Sacriston man accused of murder describes stabbing as “terrible, terrible accident” – The Northern Echo

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A MAN accused of stabbing his friend to death has described the incident as a “terrible accident”.

Richard Lee, from Sacriston, in County Durham, denies the murder of Ryan Thompson, who died after being stabbed in the heart on September 1 last year.

Mr Thompson, 25, a mechanic, also from Sacriston, died in the early hours of September 2, on the way to hospital.

Mr Lee, of Viola Crescent, told jurors at Newcastle Crown Court that he accepted that his actions had killed his friend, who he had known all his life.

The 25-year-old, who said he picked up a kitchen knife to scare burglars trying to steal Mr Thompson’s motorbikes, described the incident as a “terrible, terrible accident.”

He said: “The purpose of taking it (the knife) out was for the scare factor.

“I ended up taking the life of a close friend but I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

Mr Lee claims Mr Thompson was wounded during an altercation, which started because Mr Thompson falsely believed he was stealing his motorbike.

The defendant told the court he was having a cigarette at the back door of his girlfriend’s home in Gregson Street when he saw masked men trying the steal bikes from Mr Thompson’s garage and grabbed a knife before going to confront them.

He said: “I wanted to protect myself and I was hoping they would see it and run off and leave the bikes, which they did.

“I said to ring Ryan and get him back because his bikes were being pinched.”

He said the men got away with one bike but left two others, which he was trying to return when Mr Thompson arrived on the scene.

He added: “I was expecting a pat on the shoulder to be honest but he got the wrong end of the stick. He thought I was trying to take off with the bike.

“He shouted ‘that’s my bike’ and he started throwing punches.”

When asked why he did not throw the knife away, he replied: “He wasn’t listening. I would have been pummelled. I believed I would have been jumped on because they were under the impression I was stealing the bikes.”

He added: “I was confused. I didn’t know what was happening to be honest.”

Mr Lee, who had drunk about six or seven pints that evening, and had also taken cocaine, disputed evidence by witnesses who claimed they had heard him shouting that he was going to stab someone and denied being “in a rage”.

Earlier in the trial, the court heard Mr Thompson had been stabbed with “at least” moderate force, and the blade had gone through the cartilage between his ribs, causing damage to muscle at the front of the heart.

But Mr Lee said he thought he had “slashed” Mr Thompson, and did not know the blade had been thrust into his chest until hearing evidence from Home Office pathologist Dr Peter Cooper on Monday.

Dr Cooper had told the court that the knife had entered the chest to a depth of about seven inches and added that Mr Thompson also had a wound on his hand, likely to have been caused by the point of the blade, possibly in self-defence.

Mr Lee, who ran from the scene, says he only knew Mr Thompson was dead when he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The trial continues.

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