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Grantham man Tony McDermott stabbed multiple times in dispute over stolen tablet computer, Lincoln Crown Court hears in murder trial of Nicholas Ward

A Grantham man is accused of murdering his best friend because he believed he had stolen two tablet computers from him, a jury was told today (Tuesday, April 16)

Tony McDermott, 38, died from heavy blood loss after suffering a number knife injuries including a stab wound which went all the way through his left leg, Lincoln Crown Court heard.

Nicholas Ward, 37, of Eton Street, Grantham, denies the murder of Mr McDermott on October 14, last year.

Tony McDermott.
Tony McDermott.

Mr Ward also denies a second charge of manslaughter relating to the alleged unlawful killing of Mr McDermott on the same date.

Simon Ask KC, prosecuting, told jurors the murder occurred during the early hours of October 14 when the two men had been drinking and taking cocaine at Mr Ward's multi-occupancy home at Eton Street, Grantham.

"The defendant and Mr McDermott were close friends," Mr Ash explained. "On the evening of Friday, October 13, they met in Grantham. They then went to the defendant's home."

Mr Ash said the two men were joined by Mr McDermott's partner and it appeared there had been no problems between them when she left the property at around midnight.

But Mr Ash told jurors the defendant had recently got a job with National Grid and as the evening went on Mr Ward formed the view that Mr McDermott had stolen his work tablet as well as another computer belonging to his daughter.

"Having formed that view he reacted very badly indeed," Mr Ash told jurors. "He became extremely angry."

Jurors heard the argument woke another resident of the multi-occupancy property who recalled hearing a number of remarks.

These included "Why did you nick it?," and "I thought you were my best friend," Mr Ash told jurors.

Mr Ash said Mr Ward was also heard to say "I'm going break your neck," and "I'm going to lose my job because of you."

The jurors heard Mr McDermott responded by saying: "I wouldn't do that do you, I'm your best mate."

But Mr Ash said the comments continued with Mr Ward threatening: "I'm going to cut your ears off."

The sound of heavy blows was heard by the other resident who by this stage was too frightened to leave his room, Mr Ash told jurors, and a next door neighbour also recalled the sound of blows and a man moaning in pain.

Mr Ash said "things went quiet" shortly before 4am and a third resident of the property left his room and found Mr McDermott lying face up on the floor.

"He was not breathing and covered in blood," Mr Ash told jurors.

Mr Ash said at some stage Mr McDermott had tried to the leave the property by the front door but it was locked, and a bloody hand print on the back door suggested he had also tried to get out that way.

Jurors heard Mr McDermott was pronounced dead at the scene. He had suffered a number of blunt and sharp injuries to his head and torso, including a stab wound that went all the way through his lower left leg and resulted in heavy bleeding.

A large kitchen knife which belonged to another resident was found on a table.

Mr Ash said the knife had been left clean by the other resident the previous evening but it now had blood on the handle and a chip on the blade.

Two computers, including Mr Ward's work tablet were also recovered from his own work bag.

After leaving Eton Street, Mr Ash said Mr Ward made three phone calls to one friend in which he asked for cannabis and remarked "I think I've done something stupid."

Mr Ward also remarked that they would not see him for a "long time."

Mr Ash said the defendant also made calls to two other friends and gave the name of the person he had killed as "Irish Tony".

The defendant said he had got on top of Mr McDermott because he had stolen his girl's iPad and his work tablet, and could not stop, Mr Ash added.

Mr Ward also said he was going to hand himself in, jurors heard.

Mr Ward was arrested on suspicion of murder after a police officer spotted him in Springfield Road, Grantham.

He did not resist or initially say anything in response, and the officer noticed blood on Mr Ward's hands, Mr Ash said.

Jurors heard a Snapchat message which was made at 3.45am was recovered from defendant's phone. In the message Mr Ward said: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to."

Mr Ward was interviewed on 10 occasions by the police but either replied no comment or remained silent.

In a prepared statement which was given to the police following his final interview, Mr Ward said he did not know what had happened to Mr McDermott.

Mr Ward said he could not assist the police with what happened in the living room of number 3 Eton Street, or with the content of his mobile phone conversations or the Snapchat message.

"We say it is plainly not true that the defendant was acting in lawful self defence," Mr Ash told the jury.

Mr Ash said the defendant was overheard making threats to Mr McDermott and nature of his knife wounds meant at the very least he intended to cause him serious bodily harm.

The trial continues.

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