Man accused of Emille Stapleton’s murder in St Albans claims he acted in ‘self defence’
- Credit: Archant
An Irish plasterer accused of murdering a St Albans man in a street fight has told a court that he acted in self defence.
Paul Crosbie, 26, admits stabbing Emille ‘Millz’ Stapleton in London Road, St Albans, in the early hours of October 24 last year but has pleaded not guilty to murder or having a bladed article in a public place.
He told Cambridge Crown Court this week that Mr Stapleton was squeezing the breath out of him at the time he stabbed him in the back with a knife, causing his heart to stop.
The jury was told that the events of that night started at about 1.30am in London Road when a car occupied by Mr Stapleton and two friends was kicked by someone in Crosbie’s group.
Crosbie, who was living with a friend in Benedictine Close, London Road, at the time of the incident, said that he and his friends were on their way back to the flat when a car travelled at speed towards them as they crossed Marlborough Road.
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One of his friends aimed a kick at the vehicle and the car screeched to a halt. Three men jumped out and, he maintained, were aggressive, ‘almost goading us to fight them. They were very abusive, saying what pussies we were and asking about tooling up’.
Crosbie claimed he had tried to calm things down but Mr Stapleton had knocked one of his friends to the ground, knocking him unconscious. He said he verbally intervened when he believed Mr Stapleton was going to kick his friend on the ground and that Mr Stapleton had swung several punches at him which did not connect.
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Later, after Crosbie and his girlfriend had driven to get vodka and cigarettes before returning to the flat, another one of his friends called him to say Mr Stapleton’s group was back and ‘attacking everyone’ downstairs.
He grabbed a knife from the kitchen in panic and told the jury: “I have no doubt they had come back tooled up with more weapons. They obviously had unfinished business.”
In the fracas that ensued, he claimed he was grabbed by Mr Stapleton and swept ‘clean off my feet.’
He went on: “He started squeezing me extremely hard, like he is snapping me in half. My arms are free above his arms.
“He continued to squeeze me. I tried to wriggle away. I pushed my hand in his face. Whatever I did he squeezed harder and harder. The more I struggled, the more I panicked and couldn’t catch my breath. I stabbed him so he would let go of me.”
Crosbie said he did not intend to kill Mr Stapleton or seriously hurt him but was in a panic and struggling for air.
Back in the flat, he hid the knife outside the bedroom window in a panic.
Earlier in the trial, forensic pathologist Dr Olaf Biedrzycki, said the knife had been plunged into Mr Stapleton with a degree of force ‘approaching severe’ and consistent with a rapid in-out action.
In cross-examination the pathologist said he could not rule out the two men facing each other but sideways on would be easier to strike that type of blow or ‘just walking up behind the deceased and stabbing him.’
Forensic scientist Lyndsey Ward said Mr Stapleton’s blood analysis showed he had taken cannabis and there were traces of an anti-depressant medication while Crosbie’s blood sample showed cocaine and cannabis.
The trial continues.