Jury told that woman on stab-death charge also stood on her victim’s chest

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A WOMAN accused of stabbing a man to death also stood on his chest as he lay collapsed on the floor while his girlfriend telephoned for an ambulance, a jury heard.

Alexine Cowell said she had earlier separated Martin Wheelhouse and Janine Birch when they were arguing and “carrying on” in her home in Portland Road, Wortley, Leeds.

She told Leeds Crown Court she pushed Mr Wheelhouse out of the back door and closed it, telling Birch to go to the living room.

But she said she then saw Birch open the door and heard them exchanging abuse again before Birch made a lunging motion with her arm towards Mr Wheelhouse.

It was only when she came back in she saw Birch was holding a knife and asked what she had done.

She said Birch dropped the knife saying “he deserved it”. She then said “he was being cheeky” and added: “He was messing with the wrong person”.

Miss Cowell told the court Mr Wheelhouse was struggling to breath and she told him to come indoors. She did not realise how deeply he had been wounded and thought he just had a small cut, but he collapsed.

She said Birch then said: “He’s not clever now” and continued to threaten him while she was phoning an ambulance.

A recording of her 999 call captures her telling Birch to keep away from him and “get off him”.

Miss Cowell told the jury the comment was made when Birch stood up on Mr Wheelhouse’s chest with one foot while her other was off the floor.

At other times she was nudging or kicking at his head with her foot.

Birch, 43, of Blenheim View, Leeds denies the murder of Mr Wheelhouse, 41 of Bramley, Leeds, on August 16 last year.

The jury has heard he died from a stab wound to his upper chest which cut an artery but he had also suffered injuries to his ribs consistent with stamping or someone standing on his chest.

Tim Capstick, prosecuting, told the jury Miss Cowell had agreed to let Birch stay at her home after she had an argument with her own daughter.

She is expected to claim she acted in self defence.

The court also heard that earlier that day, Miss Cowell and Birch had been drinking cider together. Miss Cowell said at one stage Birch was sitting on the wall outside the house in Portland Road abusing people passing by until she went and punched her in the face.

After that Birch went upstairs for a sleep but was disturbed when Mr Wheelhouse arrived and they began to argue.

The trial continues.