An UNEMPLOYED shelf stacker from Hawick told a murder trial on Monday he was unable to remember stabbing his best friend to death after an all-day drinking binge.
Derek Kinghorn claims he only became aware something untoward was happening when he felt blood trickling down his face from a head wound.
By then his drinking buddy Brian Mair was bleeding to death on a rug in Kinghorn’s living room and Mr Mair’s distraught girlfriend was calling 999.
Kinghorn, 44, has denied repeatedly striking Mr Mair, 45, on the head and body with a knife, threatening to kill him and murdering him on November 1 last year.
Earlier in the trial, the jury had heard from pathologist Ralph Bouhaidar, 37, who carried out a post-mortem examination and who told the jury that the victim had 24 injuries.
He described a series of cuts on the victim’s hands and arms as classic defensive injuries.
Dr Bouhaidar said a stab wound to the left of his back had pierced the shoulder blade and left lung, then penetrated his gullet and windpipe before cutting through a major blood vessel. He said the injury caused the lung to collapse and would have been a significant cause of Mr Mair’s death.
The 6.5cm-long groin injury – which was 7cm deep – severed the major femoral artery and damaged an important vein.
Shown a large, bloodstained kitchen knife with an eight-inch blade which was recovered from the flat, Dr Bouhaidar confirmed that it could have caused the injuries he described.
The court also heard how paramedics had battled for more than half an hour to save the life of Mr Mair, but there was little they could do because of the extent of his injuries.
Paramedic Gregor Sharp, 44, and his partner Gordon Jackson arrived at the flat within five minutes of receiving a 999 call. Mr Sharp said he could tell straight away that the patient was seriously injured.
He said: “I looked for life-threatening chest injuries and I could see one straight away round about the heart area. The second was round about the right groin area. There was quite a lot of blood which had soaked the carpet.”
Mr Sharp said there was no palpable pulse and very little, if any, chest rise to show the victim was breathing.
He added: “We initially had a period where we thought we might have a wee chance, but once we’d tried everything over maybe half and hour, 35 minutes, we pronounced life extinct.”
On Monday, Kinghorn recalled drinking 10 cans of beer and smoking several cannabis joints with his friend earlier on the day of the killing.
The pair had been playing Playstation games, drinking and smoking cannabis since 10am. Just before 7pm Kinghorn phoned a dealer to have more drugs delivered.
He claimed the large kitchen knife, identified as the weapon, would have been brought into the room to divide up a lump of cannabis resin, although he could not remember this happening.
Giving evidence in his own defence, Kinghorn claimed he had no memory of going out drinking at The Imperial Bar in Hawick with Mr Mair after the drugs had been delivered to his house.
He said he also couldn’t remember returning home at around 11pm and repeatedly knifing his friend over a “jokey” remark made about his mother.
He told the High Court at Livingston: “The next thing that I remember is that Brian was lying on the floor.”
Kinghorn admitted under questioning that he was annoyed by Mr Mair’s regular habit of making comments like “yer ma” and “That’s not what yer ma said”.
He told the jury: “I found it offensive. He didn’t know my mother and I found it disrespectful to talk about someone else’s mother.
“I just kept asking him to stop saying it. Basically, I’d bite my tongue and try not to get angry about it, just wishing he would stop using the phrase.
“I love and respect my mother, and I don’t like someone saying anything about her.”
Earlier the jury had heard that Kinghorn had confessed to killing Brian Mair in “distressed” calls to his daughter Chloe Taylor and his brother Gary.
The jury was told that repeated swearing during the calls were out of character.
Miss Taylor, 20, told the jury the knife attack was “something to do with getting accused of cheating with this guy’s girlfriend, also something about a joke”.
She said: “He just said that he’d stabbed someone and that he was sorry and that he never meant it.
“He said that he’d been drinking with this guy and they had an argument and things went out of hand.
“He just kept saying that he was sorry and he was going to go to jail for a long time. He kept saying it was his mate and he’s been mates with him for years.”
She added: “He was just, like, shocked and upset. You could hear that he was crying on the phone – he was just shocked and panicked.”
Gary Kinghorn, 46, who works as a postman, said he didn’t pick up his brother’s message until he got up for work the next day.
In the voicemail recording which was played to the jury, the accused can clearly be heard saying: “I’ve just stabbed somebody and I’ve just killed the c***.”
Mr Kinghorn said he replayed the message at least four times to make sure he was hearing what he’d heard the first time.
“I tried to phone him back, but I never got an answer.”
By that time Kinghorn was in police custody.
PC David Jamieson, 34, based at Hawick, who detained Kinghorn at his flat on the night of the killing told the court he noted the accused saying: “He attacked me first” and “my hoose – I’m allowed to defend myself”.
Sometime later he stated: “The c*** attacked me so I done him”.
Constable Jamieson added: “He seemed perfectly aware, perfectly lucid.”
Kinghorn was acquitted of assaulting Mr Mair’s partner, Amy Michaels, 46, by striking her with a knife, causing her severe injury and permanent disfigurement after the Crown withdrew the charge.
The case was adjourned.