A welder accused of murder told a jury yesterday he never intended any harm to the man who died.
Joe Church said he could only presume Josh Hirst, who had been a friend, sustained his fatal knife injuries when they were struggling together.
He told Leeds Crown Court a co-accused, Aaron Smith, went to speak to Mr Hirst near his home in Mirfield on the evening of August 3 last year.
“It was just like Josh suddenly turned round and started hitting Aaron.”
Church said Mr Hirst was punching Smith in the face and being much fitter was getting the better of him, so he decided to pull them apart.
He grabbed Mr Hirst but was thrown to the ground by him. As he went down, a knife he had bought earlier that day and forgotten was in his pocket, fell out and Mr Hirst picked it up, so he grabbed his wrist and hand and they struggled over it.
Eventually Mr Hirst let go of it and turned his attention back to Smith and they began to grapple and wrestle, he said.
“I attempted to split them both up again. I tried to tackle Josh round his waist.”
He said the knife was still in his hand. “That’s when I think I cut him on the back,” he told the jury.
He and Smith then ran away as Josh was shouting he had been stabbed, he said he assumed he meant his back, and threw the knife away “I was just panicking.”
Church told his barrister Paul Greaney QC he had no idea Mr Hirst had also suffered serious injuries to his neck.
“I can only presume it happened when he picked up the knife, in the struggle,” he said.
He said he never intended to cause him any harm and was shocked to learn later that night he had died.
Church, 21 of Redlands Close, Mirfield, Smith, 19 of Saville Street, Emley and Nadeem Rashid, 21 of Lapwing View, Horbury each deny the murder of Mr Hirst, 20 of Grove Street, Mirfield and possessing an offensive weapon.