MURDER TRIAL: Jury to be sent out

Daniel Baker. Submitted picture.
Daniel Baker. Submitted picture.

A jury will tomorrow be sent out to decide if a 32-year-old drug user stabbed a Derbyshire dad to death.

The defence case for Leon Lockhart will finish in the morning before the judge sums up and sends the jury out.

Lockhart, of Carter Lane East, South Normanton, denies murdering Daniel Baker who died after being fatally stabbed through the heart in South Normanton last summer.

The trial, which started last week, has been told how Lockhart and his then-girlfriend Michaela Griffiths bumped into Mr Baker “by chance” on a bus on Thursday, July 18.

The jury was told Lockhart and father-of-one Mr Baker knew each other from previous stints in jail.

They all spent the day together taking the drug MCAT and Mr Baker slept on the pair’s settee.

The following day, the three took about ten grams of MCAT between them.

In the evening, after visiting a drug dealer, Lockhart said Mr Baker pointed a knife at him when he asked the 32-year-old to leave him and Griffiths alone.

But the prosecution said it was Lockhart who pulled the knife on Mr Baker before “plunging” it into his chest, causing a 15cm-deep wound.

Summing up the prosecution’s case today at Nottingham Crown Court, Peter Joyce QC told the jury: “This all happened because of Lockhart’s paranoid head, it’s there in front of you.

“In cross-examination he agreed that he killed Mr Baker.

“He agreed that he did it deliberately but he pretends that Mr Baker had the knife.

“The only time he finally comes forward with any statement is when he sees the weight of evidence against him and in his own paranoid head he says ‘aah, we’ll say it was self-defence’.

“Motive is not important.

“Was it about MCAT? It does not matter.

“Was it because he was possessive over Griffiths? It does not matter.

“Griffiths was there when he plunged that knife, that hideous weapon, into Mr Baker’s chest.”

Yesterday, Shaun Smith QC, defending, questioned Lockhart about the night that Mr Baker died.

He asked Lockhart: “Did you ever want to hurt Mr Baker? Did you ever want to see him dead?”

Lockhart replied: “No and no.”

Mr Smith asked: “So why did you stab him?”

Lockhart responded: “I was defending myself.

“I didn’t realise how badly injured he was.

“I told him we (Lockhart and Griffiths) needed some time together – Michaela didn’t want him staying at the house again; she was used to it being just her and me. He wasn’t happy.

“I walked off then heard my name so turned around and he grabbed me.

“He had a knife in his hand and pointed it towards me – I didn’t know what to do.

“I tried to pull away but he grabbed me back and I stabbed him – it all happened in seconds.

The defendant said he did not have a knife when he left home nor did he have a blade in his drawstring bag that was seen on CCTV shown in court.

Under cross-examination, Mr Joyce said Lockhart has only ever given “no comment” interviews to the police.

Mr Joyce said: “You were asked whether you had been involved in the stabbing.

“You were asked ‘did you stab Mr Baker?’

“You were asked ‘were you responsible for his death?’

“And you were asked ‘did you stab Mr Baker deliberately?’ and each time there was no reply.

“The honest answer to each question would have been ‘yes’, wouldn’t it?”

Lockhart replied: “Yes.”

Mr Joyce said: “At that time you did not know the power of the evidence against you, did you?”

Lockhart replied: “No.”

Last week, the jury of six men and six women heard how Lockhart was arrested after Griffiths’ father called police to say three knives had turned up in his cutlery drawer.

The morning after the killing, Griffiths arrived at her parents’ home to collect some washing.

Soon after she left, her mother discovered “three strange knives” in her cutlery drawer.

The following day, after Griffiths paid another visit to her parents’ home, her father told his wife he was not happy about their daughter and “something was going on as knives do not just turn up for no reason”.

Mr Griffiths called police and his 24-year-old daughter and Lockhart were arrested shortly afterwards on suspicion of murdering Mr Baker.

Griffiths – no longer charged with murder – has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Mr Baker, of Derby, was found by a couple slumped on the pavement of Carter Lane West shortly before 11.30pm on Friday, July 19.

They tried to resuscitate him as he lay dying on the street but he was declared dead on arrival at King’s Mill Hospital.

The trial continues.

Keep checking back for updates.