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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Carlisle bar worker found dead in blood-spattered bathroom

A bar worker was found dead in a blood-spattered bathroom with his alleged killer face down beside him.

Luke Hollingsworth photo
Luke Hollingsworth

Related: Carlisle murder trial: Best friends who dealt in drugs had fallen out

The horrifying details of exactly how Luke Hollingsworth, 23, died at his Carlisle home last year emerged in the first day of his murder trial.

His friend Jamie Armstrong, 21, of Warwick Road, Carlisle, denies stabbing him to death – claiming that the pair were attacked by two men demanding money and drugs.

The jury of four men and eight women was sworn in at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, for the first day of what is expected to be a four-week trial.

Mr Hollingsworth was found at his home in Etterby Lea, Stanwix, on July 10 last year, after he failed to turn up to work at the Woodrow Wilson pub, on Botchergate.

The cause of death was described to the court as “multiple stab wounds”, with injuries to the front and back of his head, both sides of his upper body and wounds to both arms – including to the right forearm, wrist and hand.

Opening the prosecution case, Brian Cummings revealed that Mr Hollingsworth’s girlfriend – who cannot be named for legal reasons – discovered the gruesome scene after being concerned when she could not get hold of him.

He explained that she went to Mr Hollingsworth’s home and noticed not only was his bicycle still outside the house, but his only set of keys could be seen on the inside of the locked back door.

“She put her hands to the glass and looked through the conservatory window to see if she could see anything,” Mr Cummings continued. “She could see a couple of splashes of blood on the floor, and knew that these had not been there the previous day as she had mopped the floor.

“Luke’s dog was inside, whining, and she began to have a bad feeling.”

The woman, who had met Luke at the pub where they both worked, had noticed the front bedroom window was open and so took a set of ladders from the garage and used them to clamber into the semi-detached house.

Mr Cummings told the court: “The bed was right away from the wall, the bedside tables were upside down and there was stuff strewn about. She could also smell blood.

“She went through the bedroom and out onto the landing and she saw that the bathroom doorway was open, and that a figure was lying face down on the floor.”

He continued: “She thought at first it was Luke, but realised... it was in fact the defendant, Jamie Armstrong.

“Luke was sitting next to him. He, Luke, had one arm draped over the bath and was slumped up.”

The jury were told the victim’s eyes were open, but he had no pulse. His distraught girlfriend later told police that she shook Mr Hollingsworth and shouted his name but got no response.

Armstrong was seriously injured and seemingly unconscious, but “began to stir” after her arrival.

After dashing out to call the police off her mobile – which she had left in the garage – the woman returned to the house to see the defendant coming down the stairs.

Mr Cummings said: “He appeared to her to be really faint and was stumbling around. She could see that he had what she took to be bone protruding from one of his hands.

“She said to him: ‘What have you done? You’ve killed Luke. What have you done?’ He replied: ‘It wasn’t me. Help me.’”

The court heard that the first officer on scene described Armstrong as “bare-chested”, “pale and said he appeared to be “seriously ill”.

When paramedics checked him over, they discovered £685 in blood-stained notes stuffed in his sock. He claimed the money was his.

The jury was shown photographs of Armstrong’s hand wounds, which Mr Cummings admitted were “extremely serious”.

The flexor tendons in the fingers of both hands had been severed, meaning the fingers could not grip. There was an additional knife wound through the palm of one hand.

“This was very severe, almost cutting the hand in half and showing the bone,” Mr Cummings said.

Witness statements were also heard yesterday from former colleagues at the Woodrow Wilson – which Mr Hollingsworth’s mum, Gill, had run until two weeks prior to his death.

They recalled seeing him several hours before his death, when he “stopped by” the pub briefly. He told them he was enjoying the sunny weather, but would see them all later.

The jury has also been told about Mr Hollingsworth and Armstrong’s involvement with cannabis, with the pair both described as being dealers of the drug in Carlisle.

The last person to see Mr Hollingsworth alive was a man named Ewan Murphy who bought one-eighth of an ounce of cannabis off him by the back gate of the Stanwix house.

Mr Cummings said that in his evidence, Mr Murphy recalls seeing a man he knew only as Jamie beside Mr Hollingsworth at the time of the deal.

Armstrong denies murder.

The trial continues.

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