Murder accused tells jury he was asleep at a different house at time of attack

Michael Price
Michael Price

A man on trial for murder has told jurors he was asleep at a different house when the victim got a fatal beating.

Prosecutors claim Paul Watson and Christopher Hills had "encouraged" each other during a savage attack on Michael Price, who suffered 29 separate injuries, at a house then dragged him into the street and left him.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he 36-year-old died in hospital 11 days after the violence in January, as a result of traumatic brain injury sustained during the beating.

Watson has told jurors Hills' deadly attack in Mr Price was like something from a "horror story".

But, while giving evidence from the witness box, Hills has told jurors he was not in the house when Mr Price was attacked.

Hills said he had been at the property earlier, but had left Mr Price, Watson and other people, who were all doing drugs, inside while he went to a nearby house and settled down on the sofa, alone.

He told the court: "I went to sleep, on the couch, in the sitting room."

Hills said he woke up after "a few hours" because he was cold and so went back to the house "to see if Michael was alright".

He told jurors: "As soon as I walked in I immediately saw Michael on the floor".

Hills said a woman at the house came at him with a knife and Watson went to punch him but he restrained them both.

He said he was "freaked out" at the state of Mr Price, who he called his "friend" and decided to get him out of the house and added: "I didn't know what was going to happen next".

Hills added: "I dragged him out by his legs, I dragged him out, from the hallway, over the step, onto the path."

Hills told the court Mr Price had blood on his head and face but appeared to be alive when he got him outside.

He said: "When I moved his head back, to the side, he started like snoring, as if he was in a deep sleep.

"He was gurgling blood."

Hills said he summoned a woman to alert the emergency services as soon as he had got Mr Price outside.

Prosecutor Nick Dry has told the court the men were linked to the attack, which happened at a house in Victor Street, Chester le Steet, within hours and traced to a nearby property in the same street.

The court heard Mr Price was found in the street after the emergency services received an anonymous call at around 5.30am on January 13.

When paramedics found him he was "badly beaten and initially thought to be dead" but was treated at the roadside and then transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle after a pulse was found.

He died in hospital on January 24.

Mr Dry told jurors the offence took place "within the context of a drugs background".

Watson, 30, of The Crescent, Chester-le-Street and Hills, 30, of Gregory Terrace, Houghton, both deny murder.

The trial continues.