Murder jury hears dying man receiving first aid

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A MURDER trial jury was played a dramatic 999 call yesterday in which a dying man could be heard as his girlfriend tried to give him first aid.

Alexine Cowell told the operator a groaning Martin Wheelhouse was bleeding from a stab wound to his upper chest and was directed to press a clean towel on to the injury while she waited for the ambulance to arrive.

The prosecution say the wound was deliberately inflicted by Janine Birch, who was staying at Miss Cowell’s home and had argued that evening with Mr Wheelhouse.

Tim Capstick, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court that Birch had taken a kitchen knife with a six- inch blade and stabbed Mr Wheelhouse outside the back door of the house in Portland Road, Wortley, Leeds.

He claimed Birch then continued to threaten violence to Mr Wheelhouse, as he lay injured having collapsed in the kitchen, with the recording capturing Miss Cowell telling her to get away from him several times.

A post-mortem examination later revealed that in addition to the stab wound which caused his death he had rib injuries consistent with his being kicked, stamped or stood on.

Mr Capstick told the jury: “It is ultimately for you to decide, but we submit that is consistent with the account of Miss Cowell, backed up by the recording, that at points while the deceased was lying on the floor in effect bleeding to death, this defendant was either kicking him, stamping on him or physically standing on his chest.”

He said Birch also picked up a piece of sweetcorn and began eating it and spitting out “individual pieces” of corn which landed on Mr Wheelhouse and Miss Cowell as she was trying to help him.

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

Mr Capstick said Miss Cowell agreed the day before to let Birch stay at her home after she had argued with her own daughter.

Birch and Mr Wheelhouse did not get on and had argued on previous occasions when they saw each other at Portland Road.

That day Miss Cowell and Birch had both been drinking cider and Birch had gone upstairs to bed for a rest before Mr Wheelhouse arrived in the early evening.

He was speaking in a loud voice and Miss Cowell told him to be quieter so not to wake Birch, but she had already been disturbed and came down and argued with Mr Wheelhouse once more.

Mr Capstick told the jury Miss Cowell initially let them get on with it but then intervened, pushing Mr Wheelhouse out the back door and outside closing the door on him and pushing Birch towards the hallway.

She then saw Birch open the back door to confront Mr Wheelhouse, raising her arm and swinging it towards him in a jabbing motion, making contact with him.

It was only after Birch closed the door and walked back into the kitchen Miss Cowell saw she was holding a knife which she dropped on the floor.

Miss Cowell asked her what she had done, but got no response. She opened the door and saw her boyfriend who said: “She’s stabbed me.”

He was complaining he could not breath and she helped him inside where he collapsed.

Mr Capstick said during the 999 call Birch asked where the knife was. It had been kicked across the floor and was later found with Mr Wheelhouse’s DNA on it, but Birch picked up a different one, wiped it and replaced it in the knife block.

When police arrived she denied she had stabbed Mr Wheelhouse. She made no allegation at that time of him inflicting any injury to her but he said Birch was now expected to say she stabbed him in self-defence.

The trial continues.