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Bilston High Street murder suspect sobs during speech to jury

By Richard Guttridge | Bilston | Crime | Published:

A grandfather wept as he told a jury of the moment police revealed the man he stabbed following a row over a game of pool had died.

The scene in Bilston where John Joyce, inset, was stabbed

Lyndon Smith, 46, said: “I felt disbelief. I was devastated.”

Smith, a carpenter who worked for Wolverhampton Homes, denies deliberately knifing John Joyce on August 17 last year with the intention of killing him or causing him serious harm.

He said he could not remember leaving the Market Tavern in Bilston following the fall out and returning with a knife which he stabbed into the bar counter before briskly searching the pub.

CCTV footage showed him driving away in his Vauxhall Astra despite attempts by his wife, a barman and another customer to stop him.

Soon afterwards he was seen pulling up in Church Street on spotting the Joyce party and getting out of the car.

He denied recognising Michael Keenan, the man in the pub with whom he had been arguing the most, and said he stopped because there were pedestrians in the street.

Asked why he got out, he told the jury he felt ‘trapped, surrounded, frightened’ and had stabbed Mr Joyce, 20, in self defence when a fight broke out.

Smith was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in 1997 and been on medication on and off ever since, the court heard.

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He suffered a recurrence of the condition in 2015 when his mother died suddenly at the same time he was trying to cope with other problems, including his wife’s illness and a broken ankle that had seen him laid up and off wok for several months.

He broke down as he told the jury: “I was completely destroyed. My mother was always the one I turned to for comfort. With the problems I was going through I felt I couldn’t cope anymore.”

Smith claimed he was feeling particularly emotional on the day of the stabbing because it was the second anniversary of her death.

He had put flowers on her grave at Sedgley Crematorium during his lunch hour, using a kitchen knife to trim the stems, and claimed this was the reason he had the blade with him.

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He said his anxiety problems gave him ‘an overwhelming sense of fear’ and that he should not have been drinking while on medication.

But he admitted occasionally binge drinking to forget his problems.

The court also heard he was fined for assaulting his wife in January last year, his first conviction, although they had since reconciled.

“For most of 2017, I was living in a nightmare. I thought I was going to wake up and find out everything that had happened to me was just a bad dream,” he said.

The prosecution alleges Smith deliberately sought out the Joyce group brandishing the knife, drunk and angry, to goad them, not expecting anyone to attack him.

Smith, of Owen Road, Bilston, denies murdering Mr Joyce and also pleads not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to James McDonagh and Michael Keenan.

The case continues.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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