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Murder accused gives evidence

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

By Keith Hunt

A drug addict accused of murdering his cousin in a jealous rage told a jury that he stabbed him as he tried to fend off a vicious dog.

Robert Bygrave, 32, told Maidstone Crown Court he was "thrashing" the knife around as his cousin, Steven Bygrave, swung the "snarling and growling" Staffordshire bull terrier, named Rocky, towards him.

Bygrave said he was scared and picked up the knife off a work surface in the kitchen at Mr Bygrave's home in Oak Road, Murston, in June last year.

But he maintained he had not deliberately wounded his cousin and could not recall striking him to the head with a hammer.

The court heard that the dog was being held in Mr Bygrave's arms, and the defendant said: "I have never seen a dog go mad like that."

The court heard Mr Bygrave was holding Rocky by either his collar or the scruff of his neck and was pushing him forwards.

Bygrave, who had been drinking wine and lager, said he was about three feet away and thought his cousin was going to throw the dog at him.

He demonstrated to the jury how he waved the knife around.

Bygrave continued: "I didn't want the dog near me. I was looking away. When he was swinging the dog around I thought he was going to chuck it. I turned my head. I thought it was going to be thrown in my face."

During the trial the jury heard from pathologist David Rouse that Mr Bygrave's stab wounds to his chest would have been caused by a thrusting motion.

Murder victim Steven Bygrave
Murder victim Steven Bygrave

Under cross-examination, prosecutor Eleanor Laws accused Bygrave of stabbing his cousin (pictured) deliberately and with the force of a punch. He replied: "I accept that I stabbed him, but not deliberately."

When he left the house, he said, he was distressed and panicky because of the dog. He added that Mr Bygrave had blood on him but was standing up.

He agreed with Miss Laws that he thought he had got him, but admitted he did not call an ambulance or the police or tell anyone about the dog attack.

Asked by the prosecutor why he had not been crying out to tell people what had happened, he replied: "We all react in different ways."

Robert Bygrave denies murder. It is alleged he attacked the 36-year-old father-of-two because he was jealous of a former relationship between his girlfriend, Samantha Windeatt, and his cousin.

Bygrave maintained that on the morning of the stabbing, Miss Windeatt had neither goaded nor taunted him about being half the man Mr Bygrave was. He also denied being jealous of his cousin or making earlier threats to kill him.

He told the court he had gone to the address in Oak Road to borrow some money from another occupant and not, as it was suggested by prosecutor Eleanor Laws, armed to have a fight.

The trial is expected to end next week.

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