MURDER TRIAL: Accused ‘stabbed dad in self-defence’

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

The man accused of murdering a Derbyshire dad stabbed him in self-defence, a court heard today.

Leon Lockhart, 32, told Nottingham Crown Court he never wanted to hurt Daniel Baker or see him dead.

Mr Baker died from a 15cm-deep stab wound to his heart in South Normanton last summer.

The jury was told Lockhart – who admitted to having a 20-year drug problem – and his then-girlfriend Michaela Griffiths bumped into Mr Baker “by chance” on a bus on Thursday, July 18.

Lockhart and 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.

Lockhart said: “I told him we 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.”

Shaun Smith QC, defending, 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.”

The defendant said he did not have a knife when he left home nor did he have a blade in his drawstring bag.

Lockhart, who was arrested on Saturday, July 20, added he did not hand himself into police to tell them he had stabbed Mr Baker in self-defence because “they wouldn’t believe me”.

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.

Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, said it was an agreed fact that Griffiths had bought the knives as part of a set of five from Argos in May last year.

A fourth knife – the smallest – was found beside the bed at Griffiths’ and Lockhart’s home.

Mr Joyce said the fifth knife, which was the longest and had not been found, was believed to have been the murder weapon.

Cross-examining Lockhart today, Mr Joyce said he was heard saying “it’s about the three thingys – that’s what f***ed it, innit” in covert recordings made in a prison van which was taking him and Griffiths to court in July last year.

Mr Joyce added: “That’s a reference to the three knives Griffiths had taken to her parents’ house.”

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.

Lockhart, 32, of Carter Lane East, South Normanton, denies murdering Mr Baker.

The trial continues.

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