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Murder trial father claims dagger' was used in self-defence

PUBLISHED: 16:19 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:36 12 August 2010

A LABOURER accused of stabbing an Asian student to death claimed he disarmed one of his alleged victim s friends before using the dagger in self-defence.  Stephen Braithwaite, 31, of no fixed address, said he was set upon by Bromley student Nilanthan

A LABOURER accused of stabbing an Asian student to death claimed he 'disarmed' one of his alleged victim's friends before using the 'dagger' in self-defence.

Stephen Braithwaite, 31, of no fixed address, said he was set upon by Bromley student Nilanthan Murddi, 17, and his 15-strong group who also attacked him with bottles and a hammer.

Braithwaite denied stabbing Mr Murddi but accepted he fled the scene in Croydon with the knife before hiding the blade in a bin bag.

"Bottles were thrown at me - it was chaos," Braithwaite told Snaresbrook Crown Court last Friday.

The father-of-four said one of Mr Murddi's friends - who were toasting a pal's birthday by swigging brandy in Sumner Road on August 16 last year - 'smashed' him over the head with a bottle.

Braithwaite said he 'disarmed' a knife-wielding youngster and admitted he then clashed with Mr Murddi, a student in the mixed sixth-form at Langley Park School, but denied stabbing the teen.

Describing the knife, Braithwaite said: "I would say it was 4ins - it was like a dagger"

Braithwaite said he fled from the scene along London Road with the blade still in his hand.

He added: "There was no blood on my hand - I didn't examine the knife closely.

"I didn't presume I stabbed anyone."

He admitted hiding the blade in a bin bag before seeking refuge at his sister-in-law's nearby Longley Road flat where his four children slept.

"My kids were in there and I didn't want to take the knife inside," he said.

"I was in shock."

Braithwaite said he did not see Mr Murddi lay dying in Sumner Road and only heard about the teenager's death when he watched TV news on August 17.

He said police officers kicked him in the mouth when he was arrested two days later.

The trial has heard how Braithwaite was a passenger in a mini-cab which pulled up at traffic lights near to Mr Murddi's group.

Braithwaite was said to have rowed with the driver before Mr Murddi, who was picking fights with passing motorists and whose behaviour was described as 'argumentative',

intervened.

Braithwaite was said to have screamed 'Pakis' before being rounded on by Mr Murddi and his pals.

The taxi sped off when the lights turned green but Braithwaite returned on foot minutes later to settle the row, it is claimed.

Braithwaite denies murder. The trial continues.

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