Washington man said he would 'end up on a murder charge' if he stayed with Jarrow friend he is accused of killing

A man who is on trial for killing his best friend said that he would "end up on a murder charge" if he stayed with him, a court has been told.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 9:56 am

Christopher Graham, 30, has been accused of the savage murder of 54-year-old grandfather Simon Bowman who had his fingers and toes removed in the attack, jurors at Newcastle Crown Court have heard.

Mr Bowman was found dead at his flat on High Street in Jarrow on May 14 after suffering extensive head and chest injuries as well deep stab wounds from a variety of weapons, the court has been told.

Graham, of Romney Avenue, Washington, who denies murder, had lived with Mr Bowman at the time of the killing, jurors have heard.

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Police and forensic officers at suspected murder on High Street, Jarrow

The court was told Mr Bowman had rang 999 at some point and when police arrived at the address they discovered his mutilated body.

Kelly Collingwood and her husband Michael Collingwood, who lived close to the pair, had allowed Mr Bowman to stay with them after he got out of jail last year, the court was told.

The court heard how Mr Collingwood and Mr Bowman had grown up together in Washington.

Mrs Collingwood said she had become friends with Graham, known as "Chrissy", through Mr Bowman, who she called "grandad” and she said the two were "like brothers, they were best friends".

Simon Bowman.

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, asked her about a message she had received from "Chrissy" in the early hours of May 11 which said: "If I stay with this **** I'll end up on a murder charge.

"Don't say owt to the miserable old *****."

Mrs Collingwood said she could not remember when she read the text.

The court heard on the morning of May 14, Mr and Mrs Collingwood has gone to Mr Bowman's home on High Street to take them to the food bank having not heard from them the previous day.

The jury were told that the couple had tried to contact both Graham and Mr Bowman on their mobiles before Mrs Collingwood managed to get through to Graham and he told them he was at his grandmother's.

Mrs Collingwood said: "He didn't seem the same Chrissy.

"He was stand-offish, he wouldn't look us in the face.

"There was no eye contact."

Michael Collingwood's statement was read out to the court in which he said: "One thing I would say about Chrissy is that I do recall that he would always carry scissors.

"He would always have them in his pocket."

Mrs Collingwood was shown a pair of black handle scissors in court and asked if they were the ones Graham used to carry.

She said she had not see him use them, adding: "I only ever seen him wash them."

Nicholas de la Poer, defending, asked her if it was possible that the scissors she was shown may not be the exact same scissors that she saw Graham carry, which Mrs Collingwood agreed was possible.

The court heard both Mr and Mrs Collingwood described going to Graham's grandmother's house on May 11 so he could pick some things up.

Along with some food, the jury heard how they both recalled Graham carrying a box of knives out to their car.

Mrs Collingwood said they were a set of kitchen knives and described them as "real sharp knives".

Ali Kardas lived at a property which looked onto the back of the houses on High Street.

He said he believed Mr Bowman and Graham were in a relationship after seeing them together on a number of occasions.

He said that on the afternoon of May 12 he witnessed an older and younger man in the flat. He said: "I think they were arguing with each other.

"The back door was open, they were talking with hands."

Mr Kardas gestured with his hands, waving them above his head.

He said he could not hear what was being said and that there was no violence between them.

Michael Thompson walked past the pair arguing in their front garden on High Street on May 11.

Mr Thompson said: "It was arguing at first as if someone was having a commotion."

He said the arguing was coming from the same garden which he saw a police cordon around two days later.

He added: "When I walked past they were face to face of each other and the younger lad had a hold of the older lad.

"Like by his shirt kind of.

"It was not majorly aggressive it just looked an argument getting a little bit heated."

He said the younger man looked to be more aggressive while the older man seemed to be "backing away" and that he heard the younger man saying, "it was you".

Mr Thompson said the two men then went inside, the older man first, while the younger one "stormed behind".

He said: "The older man seems like he had had a drink. Slurry speech."

"As they went inside it was more loud and there was something smashing.

"That is what it seemed like.

"Like a plate or cutlery kind of smash."

Mr de la Poer asked him to clarify his description of the two men he had given to the police.

He confirmed he believed the younger one to have been skinnier and taller and the older one was shorter and with darker hair. He said it was possible he had got their ages the other way around.

Mr Wright QC asked him what stood out in his mind, their ages or heights, and Mr Thompson replied it was that one older and one was younger.

The trial continues.