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#420595 - 20th Jul 2010 11:19am Man Stabbed in Heart by Pal over £40 row

Tranmere man alleged to have stabbed pal through heart over £40 row

A MAN stabbed his friend through the heart in a row over illegal Sky cards worth just £40, a court heard.

Mark Collins, 36, is alleged to have plunged the knife into the chest of pal Lee Willingham (pictured) as they fought over the “petty” dispute.

Mr Willingham, 30, drove off after being knifed to the chest, unaware he was fatally injured, but crashed his van just streets away after losing consciousness.

Collins, of Park Road, Tranmere, denies the murder on January 14.

He accepts wielding the knife but insists he was acting in self-defence after being set upon by Willingham, his pal Andrew McGowan and his dog.

John McDermott QC, prosecuting, told Liverpool crown court jurors: “You may have to decide whether by lucky chance he [Collins] saw the knife on the ground or in truth he went into the confrontation armed and ready to use the knife.”

Mr McDermott told the nine men and three women that Collins and Mr Willingham were “casual friends” but had fallen out on the day of his death.

Their dispute was sparked after car wash manager Mr Willingham, of Tranmere, sold two illegal Sky cards, worth just £40, to Collins’ friend Russell Evans. But about week before the fatal stabbing Mr Evans contacted Collins complaining they had stopped working and saying he wanted a refund.

On January 14, Collins took Mr Evans to Mr Willingham’s work and then his home where he handed over a £40 refund.

Mr McDermott said: “That should have ben the end of it but tragically it was not.”

He told how Mr Willingham was unhappy about Collins calling at his home, being described by his girlfriend as “huffy”.

At about 11pm that night, Mr Willingham was driving to a friend’s house with his pal Mr McGowan and his dog in the back, when he suddenly decided to confront Collins at his home.

Mr McDermott told how the two men exchanged a series of text messages and calls and eventually Collins came out his home.

Mr McGowan, who was sat in the rear of the van, told how Mr Willingham got out and the men began to exchange words before he heard a thud against the side of the van.

He climbed out the van to find the men brawling but as he did so his dog jumped out and locked his jaw on Collins’s leg.

Mr McDermott told how Mr Willingham backed away as Mr McGowan tried to get his dog off Collins’s leg.

He said Collins was swinging his arm shouting: “I’ll stab your dog, I’ll stab your f****** dog” as he got up from the floor.

At the same time Mr Willingham went to his van and armed himself with a baton saying: “Cheeky b******, a knife”.

Mr McDermott said: “We suggest at this stage both men were armed, one with a baton, one with a knife.

“The two men simply went for each other.”

In the fight that broke out Collins suffered a nasty gash to his head, but Mr Willingham suffered a fatal stab wound to his chest.

He backed off and got back into his van to drive to hospital.

But Mr McDermott said he soon began to lose consciousness and his van ploughed into a parked car on Fairfield Road.

Despite the best efforts of people at the scene and an emergency team at Arrowe Park Hospital, he died at 12.15am the following day.

Collins was arrested soon after at a nearby friend’s house. In interview, he insisted the knife had been in his pocket because he had been using it earlier that day to work on his motorbike.

He claimed he was attacked by both Mr Willingham and Mr McGowan, as well as the dog and used the knife in self-defence, fearing for his life.

But Mr McDermott told jurors: “There is a world of difference between self-defence with a knife under attack and carrying a knife ready for use in a fight.”


Cant find are running topic on this.......

Edited by _jase_ (20th Jul 2010 11:21am)

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#420767 - 21st Jul 2010 10:09am Re: Man Stabbed in Heart by Pal over £40 row [Re: ]
feisort Offline

Registered: 3rd Jul 2010
Posts: 27
Loc: B'head
RIP Lee, he was a good lad, I knew him and his missus.

#421030 - 23rd Jul 2010 1:55am Re: Man Stabbed in Heart by Pal over £40 row [Re: feisort]

Wirral man who stabbed friend through the heart in a row over Sky cards is jailed

A TRANMERE man who stabbed his friend through the heart in a row over illegal Sky cards worth just £40 has been jailed this afternoon for five years and five months.

Mark Collins, 36, has been on trial this week accused of murdering his friend, Lee "Willow" Willingham, 30, during a petty argument.

But on the fourth day of his Liverpool Crown Court trial today, Collins pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of provocation.

Jailing him, Judge Gerald Clifton accepted he had been subjected to a "substantial degree of provocation.

"In this case there was an attack by two people, one with a dog, one with a baton.” In themselves, not necessarily life-threatening, although very unpleasant.

"In my judgement, having heard the evidence, I believe that there was a substantial degree of provocation occurring over a short period."

But he added: "You took the knife you had, you opened it and stabbed the deceased once in the heart, killing him. Killing a man who to some people was a dear man and loved."

Mr Willingham's long-term partner and mother of his two children, Sharon Gardner,broke down sobbing as the sentence was delivered and had to be helped from court.

The jury heard that the argument was sparked by two faulty forged television cards Mr Willingham, a car wash manager, had sold to Collins’s friend Russell Evans.

Mr Willingham was "affronted" the men had come to his house to complain on January 14.

At 11pm that night, he was in his van with friend Andrew McGowan and his large dog, when he suddenly decided to call at Collins’s home in Park Road, Tranmere.

John McDermott, QC, prosecuting, claimed that when Collins came out of his home, the pair fought before Mr McGowan’s dog locked on to the defendant’s leg. The two men separated but came together again - Collins armed with a knife and Mr Willingham with a baton.

Judge Clifton said he was satisfied Mr Willingham, McGowan and his dog had attacked Collins, before the defendant plunged a knife into the victim's heart.

When the fatal fight came to an end, Mr Willingham got back into his van and drove off, unaware his heart had been pierced by the knife. He collapsed and crashed in nearby Fairfield Road.

When Collins, who is just 5ft 6in tall, was arrested he had a severe gash to his head and "classic defence injuries" to his arms. Mr Willingham did not have any other injuries apart from the lethal knife wound.

Stuart Driver QC, defending, said Collins was "entitled" to use some force to defend himself.

He said that Mr Willingham would have been able to defeat Collins without any weapon or any help but Mr Willingham used some sort of metal object on his head.

"Not only was Mr Willingham stronger, he was accompanied by a second man who was armed with an aggressive, powerful dog.

"Mark Collins was mauled, mauled so badly by that beast that he required an operation to remove fragments of its teeth from his leg."

The court heard Collins had been become "over-sensitive and over-protective" after being assaulted in his own home in 2008 and was seen by friends sharpening knives and machetes.



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