Devoted dad killed over £10 drug debt, court told

26/06 Updated: 27/06 10:02

TWO men accused of killing a drug user who was stabbed at his home during an incident over a £10 drug debt have gone on trial at Warwick Crown Court.

Darren Dalton, 33, of Bell Green Road, Bell Green, who is said to have struck the fatal blow, and Joseph Bourne, 37, of no fixed address, have both denied murder.

They are jointly accused of killing 48-year-old Harold Barnes at his home in April last year – even though Bourne was unconscious on the ground at the time of the actual stabbing.

Prosecutor Michael Riley began by showing the jury a number of photographs taken inside and outside Mr Barnes’s ground floor flat in Hillmorton Road, Wood End.

They included one of knocked-out teeth which had come from Mr Barnes, who had been a drug-user for many years but was also said to be ‘devoted’ to his four-year-old daughter.

Another picture showed a hole in the ground in a grassed area where the prosecution say Dalton had been seen scrabbling around hiding the murder weapon after the stabbing.

Mr Riley said Mr Barnes had not died immediately, and was able to get back into his flat to call 999 and then come out as the police and paramedics arrived before collapsing.

At first there was very little blood from the 1.5cm puncture wound to his chest, but by the time an ambulance got him to hospital there was a good deal of blood on the stretcher.

During the journey Mr Barnes, who also had cuts to his mouth, confirmed to a police officer who travelled with him that he knew who had stabbed him – but would not name them.

He was declared dead at 2.24 in the morning from cardiac failure as a result of being stabbed to the right lung.

“The Crown’s case is that the defendants went to the deceased’s house on the 20th of April in order to settle a debt of money owed to Mr Dalton for drugs; the deceased owed him £10.

“When they went round, it was their intention to do him some serious harm to enforce that debt,” alleged Mr Riley.

“There was a violent fight, during which Dalton stabbed the deceased which led to his death.”

Mr Riley said Mr Barnes was ‘a man involved in the drugs world and someone with a criminal past,’ and was a some-time dealer in class A and B drugs, as well as a user, and was also ‘a man capable of violence.’

Dalton, who also had convictions for violence and was involved in illegal drugs, had known him for about 10 years and was said to have struck the fatal blow, although Mr Riley told the jury it had been a joint enterprise’ to attack Mr Barnes.

Mr Barnes had been in a relationship with Michelle Boyle, with whom he had a daughter, but had returned to his home in Hillmorton Road because of difficulties in the relationship.

That was partly because of his use of cannabis, heroin and crack cocaine – all of which were found in his system after his death – and one of those who supplied him was Dalton.

Mark Amos, who was staying at Mr Barnes’s flat at the time, said Mr Barnes had a phone call at about 9pm, and he recognised the voice of the caller, who was shouting threats at Mr Barnes, as someone he knew as Daz Dalton.

Mr Barnes then told him ‘they’re coming round,’ and suggested he go out because things could kick off – so Mr Amos left the flat, before which he saw Mr Barnes, who was ‘worked up,’ pick up a knife with a 3-4 inch blade from the table.

Dalton had made his call from Dean Hemmings-Hastings flat in the Longfield House high-rise block in Courthouse Green.

Mr Hemmings-Hasting said Dalton, who was there with Bourne, took out a knife with a 4-inch blade and a black handle, identical to the one the police found in the hole on the grassed area near Mr Barnes’s home, and asked him to grab hold of it.

When he took it by the blade with his fingers, Dalton told him to hold it by the handle- and when he did so Dalton told him: “You’d be f***ed if I used it to kill someone, because your fingerprints are all over it.”

Dalton then asked for Mr Barnes’s phone number, which he wrote on some paper torn from an envelope, after which Dalton wrapped the rest of the envelope round the handle of the knife and put it into the waistband of his trousers.

Dalton and Bourne then went to Mr Barnes’s flat, where the police later found Dalton’s fingerprints on a beer can.

Neighbours, disturbed by shouting, looked outside and saw Mr Barnes shouting at two men and swinging a table leg at them, catching one of them, who fell to the floor – and Mr Riley said that was Bourne, who was unconscious for some time.

“The second man, who must have been Mr Dalton, came flying at the deceased and they began struggling.”

Things seemed to calm down and Mr Barnes began to walk back to his flat – but the other man said something and then ran at him with his fist at head height, and one neighbour spoke of seeing what looked like a sharp object in his fist.

She later saw him scrabbling around on the ground as if he was burying something, the jury was told.

Dalton and Bourne were arrested on May 13 after the police found them hiding out in a caravan at the rear of an address in St Nicholas Street, Radford.

Bourne said they had gone to Mr Barnes’s flat, but that he had attacked them, brandishing a piece of wood and a large kitchen knife, and he was struck and knocked unconscious.

He denied any knowledge of Dalton’s phone call and denied having anything to do with Mr Barnes’s death.

Dalton said he had phoned Mr Barnes to ask him to repay £10 he had lent him – but when they went round Mr Barnes began shouting and threw a chair at them.

He said they ran out, chased by Mr Barnes waving a piece of wood with which he struck Bourne, and a knife.

They clashed, after which he threw away the knife, but he denied stabbing Mr Barnes who he said did not seem injured when he walked away.

The trial continues.

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