Murder accused tells jury how he inflicted fatal injuries on pal at Leeds flat as he tried to defend himself

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

A MAN accused of murdering his friend in his own flat told a jury he inflicted the fatal injuries as he tried to defend himself from attack.

David Holgate said he picked up a screwdriver and repeatedly struck out at Robert Milner after his friend had grabbed him around the neck and squeezed his throat.

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 prosecution claims Holgate subjected 41-year-old Mr Milner to a “sustained and forceful” assault at the flat on Lanshaw Crescent, Belle Isle, on March 9 this year.

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

The jury has been told Holgate washed blood from himself, changed his clothing and left with the CCTV system which covered the property.

Holgate, 35, described how Mr Milner grabbed him and began “growling” as he squeezed his neck.

The defendant said he managed to reach a screwdriver and initially inflicted injuries to his arms before aiming blows at his back.

Holgate, who told jurors he was 6ft 7ins tall, said he managed to overpower Mr Milner and got him onto the floor.

Holgate said the fighting stopped and his friend asked him not to leave.

He said the pair agreed to ring for an ambulance as Mr Milner was bleeding.

Holgate said he went into the bathroom to wash blood from himself but when he returned to the living room Mr Milner was not breathing.

He said: “I was panicking. I just did not know what had happened. The room was spinning. I was shaking.”

He added: “I think I was in a state of complete shock and panic.”

Holgate said he removed a duvet from Mr Milner’s bed and laid his body on it.

The defendant said he acted in panic when he went into the loft and removed the CCTV system.

He said he could not remember clearly how Mr Milner had been injured.

Holgate’s barrister, Jason Pitter, QC, asked: “Why did you inflict the injuries?”

He replied: “I had no choice. There was nothing else I could have done. I was just trying to defend myself.”

Mr Pitter then asked: “Were you trying to kill him?”

Holgate said: “I wasn’t thinking about killing him. I was just trying to get him off my back. I wasn’t thinking anything like that.”

During cross-examination, prosecutor Simon Waley asked Holgate: “By going and disconnecting the CCTV, were you hoping to remove some evidence of what happened?”

Holgate replied: “I wasn’t thinking.”

Mr Waley continued: “I am suggesting that you were thinking. You were thinking about the CCTV evidence and that is why you wanted to remove it.”

Holgate answered: “I wasn’t thinking.”

The trial continues