Murder accused tells jury he never wanted to hurt mum-of-three

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A man accused of murdering his partner at her Sowerby home has told a jury he never wanted to hurt her.

Malcolm Cromie, 45, claimed that mum-of-three Mahala Rhodes attacked him with a kitchen knife after saying she wished he was dead during a row at the house in Rooley Heights.

Cromie said he had taken the knife out of a drawer to “call her bluff” but his partner had then stabbed him once or twice in the chest.

The defendant told the jury at Bradford Crown Court today (Wednesday) that he grabbed Miss Rhodes’ arms and tried to loosen her grip on the knife, but after pushing her hard the next thing he remembered was both of them lying on the floor of the kitchen.

Miss Rhodes, 42, suffered a fatal knife wound to the chest and died at the scene in May this year.

Cromie admitted calling Miss Rhodes a “junkie slag” during the tea-time row and he told the jury that their eight-year on-off relationship had been a volatile one.

The defendant said that a few months after the relationship began Miss Rhodes had stabbed him in the arm with a knife, but he had later retracted a statement he had made to the police.

Divorcee Cromie, who had a young daughter with Miss Rhodes, said the couple constantly argued and claimed there was violence in both sides.

But Cromie said they loved each other and made allowances for their behaviour.

“It seemed like a case of couldn’t live together, couldn’t live without each other,” said Cromie.

The prosecution has alleged that Cromie told people he wanted to kill Miss Rhodes, but he said he had exaggerated stories to “grab people’s attention”.

“We’re you saying it because you wanted to kill her?” asked his barrister Richard Wright QC .

“Absolutely not,” replied Cromie.

Cromie told the jury that during the row in the kitchen Miss Rhodes had called him “a waste of space” and a cheat.

The defendant said he had no clear memory of what happened between him pushing Miss Rhodes backwards and the two of them ending up on the floor.

“When you were fighting for control of the knife did you want to hurt her, to kill her or cause her serious injury?” asked Mr Wright.

“No,” replied Cromie.

“I’d turned her round so I could try to get to the doorway so I could make an exit.”

Cromie said as he lay on the floor he realised they were both seriously injured and he then put the knife, which was lying between them, into his partner’s hand and used it to stabbed himself again..

“I put it into Mahala’s hand and said finish what you started,” said Cromie.

The prosecution has alleged that Cromie had a history of blaming Miss Rhodes for his own self-inflicted wounds but during cross-examination by prosecutor Jonathan Sharp the defendant rejected the suggestion that he had tried to make it look as if he had been attacked by his partner.

Miss Rhodes’19-year-old son Conor told the jury earlier this week that as he tried to assist his fatally injured mum Cromie told him to let her die and that she deserved it.

But during his evidence to the jury Cromie denied making those remarks.

Cromie has denied the murder charge and the trial continues.