CHESTERFIELD MURDER TRIAL: Man denies murdering OAP with guitar in Staveley pub

The Beechers Brook pub on High Street in Staveley.
The Beechers Brook pub on High Street in Staveley.

A man has denied murdering a pensioner at a pub after he was caught on CCTV swinging a guitar at the 69-year-old victim.

Nottingham Crown Court has heard during an on-going trial this week how Jason Knowland, 46, has admitted manslaughter but has denied intending to kill Peter Matts after the incident at The Beechers Brook pub, on High Street, Staveley, about 6.30pm, on June 21, last year.

Knowland told police that he had been drinking cans of strong beer during the day and he had taken co-codamol and medication for anxiety and depression when he went to collect his guitar from the pub after it had been left by a friend but he could not remember attacking Mr Matts.

Prosecuting barrister Peter Joyce QC said: “He went there because his guitar was there. He located the guitar in a corner and a woman and a man were speaking to him.”

Knowland claimed to police in an interview he remembers going to collect the guitar and speaking to a woman and a man and he could not recall what else happened in the pub, and the next thing he remembered was being on the ground with a foot on his throat outside the pub.

He told police he remembered asking someone for the guitar and being asked, “can you shift this?”, before he lost his memory.

Mr Joyce added that when the allegation was put to Knowland by police that he had hit Mr Matts with his guitar, Knowland said: “if it’s me, I’m gutted.”

After viewing CCTV of the incident, Knowland added to police in an interview: “I’m gutted. What’s supposed to have gone off?”

Mr Joyce said Knowland said to police he was shocked and disappointed with himself and if it had been him who had attacked Mr Matts he hoped he was alright.

Mr Matts was taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital by ambulance after the incident with serious life threatening injuries and he was in a critical condition and he was pronounced dead at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital on June 28.

Knowland had originally been charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm but following Mr Matts’s death he was charged with murder.

An inquest opening revealed that retired newsagent Mr Matts’s provisional cause of death had been head injuries.

The court heard how Knowland told police he had been due to see a psychologist before the incident because he had been feeling “weird” and he suspected he was bi-polar.

Consultant forensic psychologist Dr Ruth Tully told the court she had diagnosed Knowland with several personality disorders including a paranoid disorder, an emotional and unstable disorder, a borderline emotional disorder, and a histrionic disorder.

She told the court that Knowland’s unusual behaviour at the pub including accounts of being argumentative and accusing people of staring at him appeared to be traits of his disorders.

Dr Tully said that given the evidence a diagnosis of his personality disorders would have applied before, during and after the incident affecting his decision-making and self-control.

Knowland, of High Street, Staveley, has denied intending to kill Mr Matts and has subsequently pleaded not guilty to murder but he has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The trial continues.