Man allegedly stabbed to death after swapping tablet for beer

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A Burnley man was stabbed to death because he had swapped a tablet device for cans of beer, it was alleged today.

Sixty-year-old Keith Passmore, who was supposed to have sold the device, was allegedly attacked by his neighbour and another man who severely beat and repeatedly stabbed him with a knife and large pair of scissors.

His body was found by police in the heavily blood stained flat of one of his alleged killers, Paul Howarth and the alleged murder weapons were also recovered there.

Gordon Cole QC (prosecuting) said that Mr Passmore, Howarth and the other defendant, Gary Burley, all have a long history of alcohol abuse.

But he told a jury at Liverpool Crown Court, “When you attack someone repeatedly with a knife and pair of scissors in the way he was attacked at the very least there was an intention to cause really serious harm.”

“A drunken intent to either kill or cause really serious harm is still an intent in the mind of a defendant”, he said.

Howarth (48), of Clifton Road, Burnley and Burley (45), of Herbert Street, Burnley, have both pleaded not guilty to murder.

Burley is also charged with threatening to kill Howarth’s ex-partner Kathleen Green after she saw the victim’s body, and possessing an offensive weapon, a multi-tool with a hammer attachment.

Mr Cole said that Mr Passmore “died as a result of being subjected to a sustained and forceful assault during which he had been beaten with such force as to fracture bones in his face and he had been stabbed repeatedly with both a knife and scissors.”

At about 4-30pm on Saturday January 10 this year the defendants went to visit Kathleen Green, Howarth’s ex-partner, at her sheltered accommodation at Woodtop, Harcourt Street, Burnley.

Howarth indicated that Mr Passmore had been killed and while she did not initially believe them she was eventually persuaded to go to Howarth’s flat. In the bathroom she saw the body of Mr Passmore, who lived in the flat above.

“Not surprisingly she wanted to leave and get out the flat. As she tried to do so and going out onto the road she was threatened with being killed by Burley who threatened her with a multi-tool with a hammer attachment,” alleged Mr Cole.

“While they had clearly had alcohol they both knew what they had done,” claimed Mr Cole.

She rang 999 as did Howarth “effectively saying he found the body in his own house but then went on to say he found the body in Keith Passmore’s own flat.”

A paramedic arrived and found both men outside the flat and inside saw the body of Mr Passmore now in the lounge and slumped onto a chair, partly on the chair and partly on the floor.

The police arrived and they recovered a blood stained knife, broken off at the hilt, which was found in the cutlery drawer in the kitchen and they also recovered a pair of scissors which appeared to have been used in the attack.

The flat was heavily blood stained and it appeared that the victim, who was only five foot four and a half inches tall had been attacked in the bedroom, subjected to further violence in the hallway/kitchen area before being moved to the bathroom and put in the bath where attempts were apparently made to clean up before being moved to the lounge.

He had suffered more than 30 stab wound, many centred around the neck and right shoulder and some had penetrated important veins including the jugular and one had severed his left vertebral artery.

When arrested Howarth maintained his right to silence and Burley said he had been at the flat and kicked and punched Mr Passmore to the head but said Howarth got a knife and stabbed the victim. He said that the incident was because Mr Passmore had swopped a tablet device for cans of beer instead of selling it.

Mr Cole claimed that forensic examination showed footwear marks from both defendants in blood in the flat, blood on Howarth’s clothing, on the knife blade and the scissors contained the DNA of both defendants. A mop and bucket had been used to try to clean up.

He said that although it was not known precisely what time Mr Passmore died CCTV footage showed various visits by the two men to a local shop that afternoon.

The case continues.