Murder trial jury hears how accused '˜stamped hard on victim's head'
A man accused of involvement in a fatal attack on a flatmate has told a jury that he saw his co-accused stamping hard on the victim's head.
Geoffrey Cunliffe, who denies murder, said that Danny Eckersall attacked the 61-year-old victim because he had gone at him with a knife.
A Liverpool Crown Court jury had heard that Eric Caddick was allegedly battered unconscious by the two men and he died three and a half months later without regaining consciousness.
Eckersall, 32, who also denies murder, has told the court that he head-butted Mr Caddick who was threatening to kill him with the knife. He also admitted stamping on him but claims he was acting in self-defence.
Cunliffe, 48, told the court that on the day of the incident, November 25 last year, all three men, who were all heavy drinkers, were at the flat they shared in Withington Lane, Aspull.
He claimed that that morning Mr Caddick, who was drinking vodka straight from a bottle, hit him in the face with his electronic tablet “once or twice.”
“I was sitting down and he was standing up. I got up and slapped him two or three times, not too hard.”
He said that the tablet had fallen to the floor and broken and he told Mr Caddick he would need to buy a new one. Mr Caddick told him, “Geoff I’m sorry,”
His QC John McDermott said that Eckersall had claimed Cunliffe had thrown the tablet against the wall but he said, “I don’t think that is true.”
Shortly after Cunliffe said he saw Mr Caddick in the hall with a knife. “I shouted, ‘Danny, he’s got a knife”.”
Cunliffe claimed he heard Mr Caddick saying to Eckersall that he would not be seeing his son again and he could hear “loads of shouting and scuffling in the hallway.”
He said he heard Eckersall telling him to put the knife down and he saw him stamp on his head once.
“Eric wasn’t moving and I said to Danny, ‘stop it now’.”
Cunliffe said that the victim looked unconscious. “I knew he was in a bad way. I wanted to call an ambulance and I said that to Danny and he said, ‘no, no’. He told the court that Eckersall told him they were leaving and they went to a shop and then the homes of Eckersall’s former wife and ex-sister-in-law.
“I was thinking about Eric on the floor, I was worried. I remember Danny saying, ‘he will be alright’.”
They got a taxi home about 7pm and Mr Caddick was lying on the floor in a pool of vomit and Eckersall rang for an ambulance claiming that the victim had fallen and banged his head while drunk.
“I knew it wasn’t true,” said Cunliffe. Asked if he remembered mopping up the vomit he admitted, “I could have done.”
Nicholas Johnson, QC, prosecuting, has told how a note written by Cunliffe was found on a fish tank in the flat saying he was sorry and Mr Caddick should not have come at him with a knife.
He claimed that Eckersall, who had been drinking and snorting cocaine, had made him write and sign it.
“I was scared of Danny with what he had done to Eric,” he explained.
Asked by Mr McDermott why he thought he had made him write it, he replied, “Probably to stitch me up, to frame me.”
Further questioned he admitted that two days later he and Eckersall went to a cash machine in Hindley with the victim’s card and he withdrew money which he gave to Eckersall who claimed it was money he was owed.
Eckersall denies robbing Mr Caddick on March 26, 2014 and on March 21 last year. Also in the dock is Gavin Jones, 48, of Lancaster Road, Wigan, who denies the earlier robbery in which £50 was taken.