‘Leeds man murdered pal in his own flat before having a bath and leaving CCTV equipment’

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

A MAN murdered his friend in his own flat by subjecting him to a “sustained and forceful” assault including stabbing him with a screwdriver, a jury heard.

A court heard David Holgate inflicted multiple stab wounds to Robert Milner’s head and body before washing blood from himself in the bath then leaving with a CCTV system which covered the property.

Holgate, 35, arranged for his girlfriend to pick him up but was later persuaded to dial 999 and told an operator that he believed he may have killed someone.

Police went to the ground floor flat on Lanshaw Crescent, Belle Isle, Leeds, and found 41-year-old Mr Milner’s body on the living room floor surrounded by blood and covered by a beach towel.

Holgate, of Bodmin Road, Middleton, Leeds, is on trial at Leeds Crown Court where he pleads not guilty to murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

The jury was told Holgate claims he had acted in self defence when Mr Milner, known as Bob, got him in a headlock and strangled him as the two men were drinking and smoking cannabis at the property on March 9 this year.

Simon Waley, prosecuting, said: “In some respects it is a particularly tragic case because until the confrontation that took place between them that proved fatal, they had for some time been friends.”

Mr Waley described how the two men had phoned each other on the morning of the incident and Holgate’s partner, Sarah Stewart, had dropped him off at Mr Milner’s flat around midday.

The court heard Miss Stewart rang Holgate later that afternoon, around 4.40pm, and she thought both men sounded drunk.

Mr Waley said Miss Stewart picked Holgate up around an hour later and described him as being “really panicky.”

He was carrying a large white carrier bag which contained the CCTV system and clothing.

The court heard Holgate then asked to be taken to his brother Steven’s home.

The prosecutor said: “When they got there Steven got in to the car and he told him that something was wrong and that Bob was dead. He said they were having a bit of rough and tumble and Bob tried to strangle him and he stabbed him in the neck.”

Holgate’s brother and partner told him to ring police. The jury was played a recording of the 999 call.

Police went to Mr Milner’s flat where he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Waley said a turntable was near to the body which was still spinning. The room was in darkness and the blinds were drawn.

A screwdriver was behind the living room door which had Holgate’s fingerprints on the handle.

Holgate was interviewed and told police Mr Milner had got him in a headlock after they had an argument.

He said he thought he believed he was being strangled, was blacking out and the next thing he could remember was being in a cold bath washing blood from himself.

Holgate told officers he changed out of his bloody clothing and climbed into the loft area to disconnect the CCTV system before leaving with it.

The jury was told a pathologist had concluded that Mr Milner had died from asphyxia caused by breathing his own vomit after suffering head injuries consistent with “a sustained, forceful blunt force assault.”

Mr Waley said Mr Milner suffered 30 puncture wounds to his head and multiple wounds to his body, hands and arms.

He told the jury that blood-staining on Holgate’s clothing indicated that it had been Mr Milner who had been held in a headlock.

Mr Waley said: “The prosecution would say it is inconsistent with the defendant’s assertion that he was acting in any sort of reasonable self defence.”

The trial continues.

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