Killer of Leeds man 'returned to steal from victim's home'

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A man was stabbed to death in his flat and lay undiscovered for more than two weeks as his killer returned and "literally stole over his dead body", a jury heard.

A murder trial was told Philip Craig rifled through the pockets of victim Christopher Laskaris (pictured above) after killing him and stole valuable electrical items from his home.

Leeds Crown Court heard Craig also "boasted" to police after his arrest that they would not find any forensic evidence in the flat linking him to the death.

Craig, 38, is on trial accused of murdering Mr Laskaris in November last year.

The jury has been told Craig has already pleaded guilty to burglary at Mr Laskaris's flat on St John's Close, Hyde Park, but denies murder, claiming he inflicted the stab wound in self defence.

Nicholas Campbell, QC, said it is thought Mr Laskaris died on Friday November 4 last year.

His body was discovered on November 17 after his mother reported him missing.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was a single stab wound to the chest.

Forensic evidence indicated that Mr Laskaris's body had been moved and the pockets of his jeans had been turned out.

Craig's DNA was found on Mr Laskaris's clothing.

Items including a television, mobile phone and electric guitars were stolen from the property.

Mr Campbell said a police investigation revealed Craig had returned to the property on at least one occasion after Mr Laskaris's death.

CCTV footage also showed Craig going to a shop in the Harehills area of the city where he sold property stolen from the flat.

Mr Campbell said: "Literally over Mr Laskaris's dead body, property was stolen from that flat and sold with the aim of making money."

Craig was living at Kings Road, Hyde Park, at the time of the of the incident, a short distance from Mr Laskaris's home.

He was arrested on November 24 after armed police stopped a taxi he was travelling in.

Craig was interviewed the next day and initially denied knowing Mr Laskaris or having any responsibility for his death.

He claimed to have received the items stolen from the flat from another man, who he refused to name.

Craig changed his account in March this year, claiming he had gone to Mr Laskaris's home to smoke crack cocaine.

Craig said he threatened to take Mr Laskaris's computer away as he owed him £80.

Mr Campbell said Craig claimed Mr Laskaris then picked up a guitar and hit him with it.

The prosecutor told the jury: "He said he picked up a knife which was nearby and pushed the knife towards Mr Laskaris and the knife entered his chest, which caused the injury and led to his death."

Mr Campbell continued: "The prosecution's case is that Philip Craig murdered Christopher Laskaris and that when he killed him, he used unlawful violence and at the time he intended either to kill him or at the very least cause him really serious harm.

"Only two people were present when this killing took place - you have only one left still alive.

"That doesn't mean you should take the survivor's account of what happened at face value. The defendant has already lied. The prosecution's case is that he is lying still."

Proceeding.

Paula Dillon, President of Leeds Chamber Commerce.

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