Double murder trial jury hears accused man deny both killings

Double murder suspect James Allen told a jury he was not the killer of a pensioner in Middlesbrough and a disabled woman stabbed to death at her home in Whitby.

Giving evidence at Newcastle Crown Court he said 81-year-old Colin Dunford was a former neighbour who was “a nice old bat” whom he had previously done odd jobs for.

He would use his phone on occasions but had not been inside his home in Leven Street, Middlesbrough for at least six days before his death in April.

Prosecutors claim Allen killed Mr Dunford before ransacking his home and then struck again a few days later, killing Julie Davison at her home when the money he had stolen from his former neighbour ran out.

Allen told the court he did not know Ms Davison, who was murdered at her flat in Church Square, Whitby on April 25.

“I never met the woman in my life as far as I know, never spoke to her, so how can I feel any empathy towards her. She obviously died in a horrific way.”

He told Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, from what he had read about her being repeatedly stabbed it seemed more like a personal attack against her rather than someone just committing a robbery, which the Crown has claimed was the motive.

“I’m 100 per cent not guilty of anybody’s murder” he added.

Allen, wearing jogging bottoms and a grey ribbed jumper, had two prison officers sitting near him as he stood across from the jury in the witness box.

He told the court that at that time in April the police were looking for him over an allegation of rape made against him.

The woman concerned “said I had raped her, thrown her through a window and slashed her maybe 50 times across her face and neck.”

He said he had rung the police and given them names of witnesses who would support his account that he was not guilty and wanted them interviewed before he was prepared to hand himself in.

But there was always the chance police would find him first and he would be back in prison on remand and if that was to happen he wanted to make sure he had enough of a particular drug to take with him.

Allen, who denies both murders, told his counsel Rod Hunt he was on a hunting expedition for that drug Subutex, on the night he went into the block of flats where Julie Davison lived.

He described Subutex as a powerful synthetic drug used in pain management and added: “I was in a great deal of pain at that time, I wasn’t running out of it but if I got caught by the police I wouldn’t have much.”

He told the jury he asked around in Whitby and was directed to the flats in Church Square and made a number of visits to the address during that night hoping to add to his “stash” from a dealer without success.

That was why he said, he was later identified by a number of people who saw him there. During one of those visits he agreed he had told police he met a man he had known from prison called Scott.

Allen, 36, formerly of Lothian Road, Middlesbrough, said “Scott” offered him £1,000 for helping with a “little earner” to do with a car in Scarborough.

He told the jury by then he’d hurt his foot in an accident on the bike he had used to cycle from Middlesbrough to Whitby and one of his trainers was leaking.

When he mentioned his problems to “Scott” the man agreed to swap the bike for him and went into the flats for a few minutes, and when he returned, handed him some white shoes with Velcro fastening and a black jacket.

He also gave him a laptop and £40 and Allen said he was told to dump a carrier bag behind a specific address before heading off to meet Scott elsewhere for the job, but he never turned up.

The prosecution claim those items were stolen by Allen in a robbery at Ms Davison’s home during which she was killed.

Allen said he spent the next night in Scarborough, where he bought some new clothes and trainers, before heading to Leeds the following day hoping to get Subutex.

He spent one night there at the home of a couple after meeting a man while looking for a supplier and then two days at a farm in the country before he was arrested in the centre of Leeds.

Under cross-examination by Mr Smith he agreed at one point he had also told police Scott did not exist. He said he was tired and stressed being interrogated by the police. He was not a grass and would not normally help the police and had to think of his position as a criminal.

He told the jury he had offered to go off record to “that knucklehead”, indicating one of the policeman in the case, but said the offer was rejected. “He had the chance and didn’t take it.”

The trial continues.