Man died after 'brushing off' tiny cut from kitchen knife 'during row with friend'
2 June 2020, 19:01 | Updated: 2 June 2020, 20:42
A man died after suffering a tiny cut from the tip of a kitchen knife following a row over a coat between two friends, a court has heard.
James O'Keefe probably "brushed off" the 1.5cm-deep wound to his right thigh and did not seek medical help, the Old Bailey was told.
Unbeknown to the 47-year-old, it had sliced a varicose vein, causing the "severe, prolonged and unchecked bleeding" that killed him.
His friend, George Nolan, is now on trial for manslaughter at the Old Bailey.
Prosecutor Julian Evans told jurors the pair had got into an argument while drinking at the flat of another friend, Jan Farnham, in Crouch End, north London, on 9 December last year.
Mr Farnham allegedly later found Mr O'Keefe with his trouser leg soaked with blood, claiming Nolan had stabbed him.
Jurors were told Mr O'Keefe then went into the bathroom and collapsed in the bath, as Mr Farnham rushed to get help.
A knife with the victim's blood on it was found the following day in a communal bin near Mr Farnham's flat and Nolan was arrested, the court heard.
Mr Evans said: "Based on the medical evidence and the blood staining inside the flat, it would appear that James O'Keefe suffered a single stab wound that bled profusely, unchecked and untreated for a lengthy period of time, before he collapsed in the bathroom.
"In all likelihood, James O'Keefe did not appreciate the potential seriousness of the injury he had suffered.
"Whether this was because he was intoxicated or whether he lost consciousness is not known.
"What is clear though is that the wound bled profusely. No doubt unbeknownst to him, the knife wound damaged an underlying varicose vein."
Mr Evans said that given the shallow wound, the prosecution's case was that Nolan stabbed Mr O'Keefe with the intention of causing him harm but not severe harm.
The 55-year-old, of Tottenham, north London, denied manslaughter.
He had claimed an argument erupted between Mr O'Keefe and Mr Farnham over a coat the victim was refusing to return.
Nolan claimed in a defence statement that he had tried to reason with Mr O'Keefe, who then armed himself with a small wooden rounders bat and threatened him.
Mr Evans said: "It is the defendant's case that he picked up a knife inside the flat in order to deter James O'Keefe, who was armed and advancing upon him, and that O'Keefe suffered the injury to his thigh as a result of stumbling towards him while he was holding the knife."
The trial at the Old Bailey got under way despite last-minute information that one of the jurors who attended court on Monday "may or may not" be infected with coronavirus.
Before the trial began on Tuesday, Judge Nigel Lickley QC told the remaining jurors: "Shortly before 2pm it was brought to my attention that one of the jury panel yesterday may or may not have been infected with coronavirus.
"It appears that on May 23 he had some symptoms and called the NHS who advised him to isolate for seven days.
"He did not have a test and a few days before he was due to come here he felt much better so that is why he came."
He asked the remaining jurors if any of them had any concerns, but all of the men and women - sitting in court two metres from one another - confirmed they were happy to continue.
Each juror has a mini bottle of hand sanitiser, a mask, gloves and tissues laid out at their work stations in the well of the court.
The Old Bailey is one of a handful of criminal courts testing social distancing measures.