Teenage witness to pub stabbing

PUBLISHED: 06:39 19 January 2007 | UPDATED: 19:54 01 June 2010

CHRISTOPHER GARFORD: “left to die on the floor”

CHRISTOPHER GARFORD: "left to die on the floor"

TEENAGER watched in horror as a pub landlord stabbed a customer to death in a knife attack, a court was told. The prosecution alleges that Steven French stabbed Christopher Garford 23 times with a kitchen knife in the head, neck and chest during a fight a

TEENAGER watched in horror as a pub landlord stabbed a customer to death in a knife attack, a court was told.

The prosecution alleges that Steven French stabbed Christopher Garford 23 times with a kitchen knife in the head, neck and chest during a fight at the Wisbech Arms pub in Exchange Square, Wisbech, on June 3 last year.

French, 50, who lives above the pub, denies murder.

His defence claim it was Mr Garford who first pulled the knife and French had been subjected to verbal and physical assaults from customers since taking over the Wisbech Arms.

On Wednesday the jury at Cambridge Crown Court heard video evidence from Ricky Lake, 18, who said he had gone to the pub at about 10.30pm and French and Mr Garford had begun fighting after a row over late-night drinking.

Mr Lake said Mr Garford had thrown a bottle or glass at French, but missed and hit the landlord's 10-year-old daughter. He said French had "lost it" after the missile was thrown.

At one point, he said, Mr Garford was on the floor with French on top of him, hitting him. He said: "Chrissy (Mr Garford) was saying is that all you have got?"

Mr Lake said French was punching Mr Garford and singing at the same time. He said Mr Garford was trying to get back up on to his knees when Mr Lake saw French pull a knife from his trousers.

He said: "Then he went whack in his back." As French stabbed Mr Garford, he told him: "Have this."

"It was horrible," he told officers. "Steve just gone bang in his neck "

Mr Lake said his father, who was also in the pub, shouted to French that he had killed Mr Garford.

The jury was shown a second taped police interview, taken five days after the first in which Mr Lake told officers it was a glass which was thrown at French prior to the fight.

He also said French and Mr Garford had been involved in a fight two weeks before.

On Tuesday Timothy Spencer, QC, opening the case for the Crown, alleged French had waited for almost 20 minutes after the last blow to call emergency services.

The court heard that French told police the murder had been committed by "two foreigners" who stormed into the pub.

Mr Spencer said: "Having been stabbed, Mr Garford was left to die on the floor of the bar, left to die without anyone attempting to comfort him, without anyone endeavouring to see whether he could be helped."

Karim Khalil QC, defending, told the jury that French had been subjected to verbal and physical attacks from regulars at the pub since he had taken over as landlord five months earlier.

Mr Khalil added that it was in fact the dead man who first pulled a knife during the struggle in the bar.

"In quite a short period of time he became a threatened landlord," he said

"Over the course of time, and finally on that night, Mr French had been subjected to very significant provocation by the deceased and his cohorts.

"He was doing more than defend himself but his immediate family; his partner and children."

The trial continues.

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