Calderdale murder accused tells jury he “pushed” 58-year-old man after being hit with a wine bottle

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

A 21-year-old man accused of murder has told a jury that he was hit with a wine bottle after he asked for the time while he was out looking for work in Sowerby Bridge.

Paul Bell, 58, died in hospital two months after he suffered a fractured skull and a brain injury during an alleged attack in September 2018.

The prosecution has alleged that Mr Bell was on his way home after a night out with a friend in Hebden Bridge when he was the victim of an attempted knifepoint robbery, but today (Thurs) Nicholas Gill told a jury at Bradford Crown Court that he had only approached Mr Bell to ask him the time.

Gill, of Hollins Lane, Sowerby Bridge, claimed Mr Bell, who had just bought a bottle of wine from a nearby off-licence, swung the bottle at him twice and hit him on the elbow.

Gill, who admitted being a cannabis user, suggested that Mr Bell was intoxicated and said he lost his balance after he pushed him in shoulder or chest.

During questioning from his barrister Simon Kealey QC Gill denied that he had a knife with him that night and said he had not punched or kicked Mr Bell during the incident.

Gill, who said the push was intended to get the man away from him, claimed that Mr Bell’s face had hit a wall and he might then have banged his head when he fell to the ground.

“I helped him up and sat him on a wall,” said Gill.

He said Mr Bell was bleeding from his nose and possibly his mouth, but when he asked if he wanted him to stay with him Mr Bell said no.

When he was asked if he had punched Mr Bell the defendant replied:”I didn’t attack him. I’m not that type of person.”

Gill said when he left Mr Bell he didn’t know what injuries he had sustained.

The defendant, who denies the murder charge together with further offences of attempted robbery and possession of an offensive weapon, admitted that he did carry a knife on occasions for his own protection but said he had been visiting pubs, restaurants and shops that night looking for work.

When police officers arrested Gill the day after the alleged attempted robbery he gave them a false name, but he said that was because he knew there was a warrant out for him.

He said he had told lies about the events that night because he was scared.

“Did you attack Mr Bell intending to cause him really serious harm?” asked Mr Kealey.

“No, didn’t attack him at all,” said Gill.

“Did you attempt to rob him? asked Mr Kealey.

“I didn’t attempt to rob him. I’m not that sort of person. I wouldn’t do something as serious as that.”

The trial continues.