Victim 'stabbed to death with commando knife' during frenzied attack in Birkenhead street

Wirral Globe: Victim 'stabbed to death with commando knife' during frenzied attack in Birkenhead street Victim 'stabbed to death with commando knife' during frenzied attack in Birkenhead street

A jury heard a man was stabbed to death in a frenzied attack in a Birkenhead street after a row.

Such was the force used by alleged murderer Denis O'Neil, who was armed with a heavy duty commando-type knife, that it penetrated his victim's skull twice causing bleeding in the brain.

A pathologist said the unusual head injuries occurred where the skull bones are extremely strong and thick and penetration would have required "massive amount of force," said QC John Benson, opening the prosecution case.

The 38-year-old victim. James Byrne, known as 'Shaba' or 'Jaba' to his friends, also suffered two other head wounds and six other wounds, one penetrating his left upper chest, completely severing the cartilage of the second rib, which would have required severe force, and one in his back. puncturing his right lung and damaging a major vein causing massive internal bleeding.

Mr Benson told the jury at Liverpool Crown Court that the case was not "a whodunnit" as 47-year-old O'Neil admits inflicting the fatal wounds. "His case is that he acted in lawful self-defence and had no intention to kill or cause really serious harm."

O'Neil, of Old Chester Road, has pleaded not guilty to murder and alongside him in the dock is Steven Johnson, also of Old Chester Road, who denies three charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice involving allegedly cleaning up blood, trying to influence a witness and providing O'Neil with a change of clothing.

Mr Benson said that the stabbing occurred in Old Chester Road opposite Well Lane on the evening of September 22 last year after O'Neil or Johnson had sent texts to a friend of the deceased saying he and his friends were 'snitches' or 'grasses'.

Around midnight, Mr Byrne climbed onto the wall behind the block of flats were O'Neil and Johnson live and was heard shouting 'who...are you calling a grass? and was holding a bottle.

O'Neil allegedly appeared with a large knife calling Mr Bryne a 'grass' and when Mr Byrne fled he followed.

A woman who had heard the earlier shouting, Rebecca Wilson, was so concerned she went to the front of the flats and had "the great misfortune to witness from a close distance the murder of Jamie Byrne" claimed Mr Benson.

"The man she had seen with the bottle on the wall was on the floor. The man with the knife was crouching over him repeatedly striking him with the knife. The man being stabbed was shouting and pleading with the other man to stop.

"She could see the man on the floor was covered in blood and appeared to be curling up to try to protect himself. The man doing the stabbing was shouting, 'do you want me to kill you?'

"She saw the man on the floor desperately trying to crawl away. The man who had been wielding the knife then walked away."

Mr Benson claimed that O'Neil went to his friend Johnson's flat as during the "frenzied, violent attack" he had cut his hand. 45-year-old Johnson was seen by Rebecca Wilson mopping up blood and told her 'you didn't see nothing did you Beck. My mate has stabbed him five times but he had a bottle."

This was a clear attempt to frighten her into silence, claimed Mr Benson, who said that Johnson also allegedly gave O'Neil a pair of tracksuit bottoms.

After hiding the knife, which had a ridged steel blade and a very sharp tip, O'Neil went to a secluded field via Levers Causeway and later to a friend's home before finally answering his mobile phone to police and surrendering.

When interviewed he claimed Mr Byrne had had a knife and said he went down with his bush craft knife and Byrne suggested they have a straightener.

He put the knife down but Mr Byrne threw a bottle at him so he picked it up again and they scuffled, although he could not recall cutting Mr Byrne.

The court heard the victim died in Arrowe Park Hospital on September 23 after he stopped responding to treatment.

The case continues.

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