Published: 15:00, 17 October 2016 |
Updated: 17:49, 17 October 2016
The violent past of a man accused of a double murder has been revealed in court today.
A jury at the trial of Foster Christian was told how he has twice been jailed for wounding offences, the first for a knife attack on football fans and the second for using a screwdriver in a nightclub assault.
The 54-year-old mechanic is accused of the murders of Natasha Sadler and Simon Gorecki, who died from fatal stab wounds at a house in Dickens Avenue, Canterbury, on March 29 this year.
Christian – who alleges he acted in self-defence - took the stand at Maidstone Crown Court for the first time this afternoon.
He denies the double murder and two charges of wounding with intent Ms Sadler’s son Connaugh Harris, 20, and another 16-year-old boy.
As his trial continued today, the jury was told Christian was jailed for 15 months in 1985 for using a lock knife in an assault on drunk football supporters he claimed were attacking him outside a south London police station.
Four years later he was jailed again, this time for five years, for a screwdriver attack on bouncers he claimed jumped him at Gillingham nightclub.
The dad-of-three found himself back behind bars in 2013 for an offence of actual bodily harm, for which he was sentenced to nine months in prison.
Before his previous convictions were read out, the jury had been told how Christian wanted to move out of the shared accommodation where the alleged murders took place because he felt vulnerable.
On July 1 last year – nine months before – he contacted the housing association which owned the property following a violent incident.
In admissions read to the jury, Ahmed Hossain, for the prosecution, said a housing officer for Canterbury Local Link witnessed the violence at the flats.
She was making a visit there when she heard arguing and then saw "male and female visitors" shouting and swearing.
"The female started hitting Foster across the head and he started to defend himself," she said.
Another tenant, Simon Gorecki, was angry. They all seemed to be under the influence of alcohol.
"He goaded Foster to hit him, which he did," the officer continued. "I called the police. Two female and two male visitors left in a white van. There were threats from the visitors to come back."
Mr Hossain said a police officer attended and saw that Christian had lost two teeth from an assault on him by the female visitor.
Six days later Christian wrote to the housing association saying he felt vulnerable and insecure, adding: "I can't stay here any longer for my own wellbeing."
He said of the incident last year that he was attacked when others were drunk.
He asked to be moved but nothing was done, despite him contacting Victim Support, his MP and his GP about it.
Taking the stand this afternoon, he told the court how he had lived in the house for seven years before the alleged murders.
There had been arguments, he said, but nothing came of them before Mr Gorecki moved in.
There was drinking every day, he said.
"When they are drinking the best thing to do is stay in your room and keep out of the way," he said.
Jurors have been told an argument started after Christian turned on a tap in the kitchen causing the temperature to change while Mr Gorecki was having a shower.
Christian says he got back to the house on the day of the stabbings at about 7.10pm and turned on the tap to make a "cuppa", not realising Mr Gorecki was in the shower.
He knew it would affect the temperature, but said he did not do it deliberately.
"I heard swearing from Simon," he continued. "I responded saying the same.
"I made a cuppa and went to my room. Ten minutes later I got a knock on my door. It was Natasha on the stairs.
"She said if I ever ------- do that again I will get smashed to bits."
“They were saying Terry’s name. That’s when the penny dropped. I think this is about the other day when he attacked me on the Friday.
“I just went back to my room. The shower was never mentioned, but what was mentioned was Terry’s name being shouted up and I was supposed to have smashed (Simon’s) phone.
“I shut the door. I was making my way to my bed and I heard the door open. I turned around and saw the soldier one, Connaugh. The other fellow followed behind him, then Natasha.
“Simon was not there at the time. They come into my room. Connaugh said: ‘That’s my mum.’ I said: ‘Cool, but get out of my room.’ I put my hands up. I raised my voice.
“They were coming towards me. He was angry. I sidestepped and grabbed a knife from the rack.”
The knife block with a pair of scissors slotted in the side was shown earlier to the all-male jury.
Asked by his QC Rajiv Menon why he kept them in his room, he said he used to keep them in the kitchen until Mr Gorecki moved in.
“He started using them, leaving them dirty and putting them back in my block,” he said.
Asked why he picked up a knife, he replied: “Why? Because I felt threatened. I saw Connaugh come in. It looked like he had something in his hand by his right leg.
“I told them to get the ---- out of my room. I held it up visibly. I pointed it towards him.”
Christian denied the knife was in a yellow carrier bag, as alleged by the prosecution. It did not feature at all, he said.
Natasha, he said, shouted: “Put that away.” He replied: “Yeah, if you get the ---- out of my room.”
He claimed he stayed where he was. Connaugh put his arm out to stop the others going any further. “He turned around and ushered them out,” he added.
Mr Gorecki, who was 5ft 6in tall, was stabbed five times in the ensuing row, four of the wounds being to his back.
Ms Sadler had several wounds, one of which entered above her left eyebrow and “followed down” inside her lower jaw.
Mr Gorecki, a former fishmonger at the Goods Shed in Canterbury, died as a result of a collapsed right lung and Ms Sadler from a wound to her heart.
Christian says there was trouble a few days before the alleged stabbings.
He told the court he had relationship with Ms Sadler in the summer of last year, but it only lasted a few weeks and they parted amicably.
Christian’s evidence will continue tomorrow.
The case continues.
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