A CARLISLE man whose friend was fatally stabbed told a jury he did not recall the alleged attacker trying to 'swap cannabis' for Valium tablets he had before the violence.

Barry Cartwright was giving evidence on the second day of a Carlisle Crown Court trial of two men who deny murdering 37-year-old John Gingelis.

Blair Dixon, 25, accepts he stabbed Mr Cingelis but he insists he acted in self-defence.

The prosecution say Dixon’s housemate Alfonso Bitton, also 25, was “as responsible” for the killing because he gave encouragement and support to Dixon.

Bitton denies being there when Mr Cingelis was stabbed.

The defendants also deny intentionally wounding Mr Cartwright.

Giving his evidence, Mr Cartwright, who was stabbed in the arm during the incident that ended with his friend's death, was questioned about his account of what happened on April 12, the day Mr Cingelis died.

He accepted there was trouble at his friend’s Brantwood Avenue home, where he was staying.

This consisted of “ people coming and going” and people taking drugs and drinking there.

A window was boarded up because somebody had thrown a stone through it after an argument, he told the court.

When police searched the property a “bag with knives in it” was found on the settee, said Alistair Webster QC, for Dixon.

“Can you assist us with why that was there,” asked Mr Webster.

“I don’t know why that was there, no," said Mr Cartwright, adding: “I’m petrified of knives; I wouldn’t use a knife.”

He had previously self-harmed, he said.

Mr Webster said to the witness: “Mr Dixon wanted to swap cannabis he had for Valium which you [and another man] had. Do you remember that being discussed?”

“No – I don’t recall that conversation,” replied Mr Cartwright.

Mr Webster suggested Mr Cartwright had woken in a “fairly aggressive mood” because of drink and drugs he had taken.

Again, Mr Cartwright replied: “I don’t recall.” The barrister further suggested Mr Cartwright “blocked” Dixon as he tried to leave the flat.

The witness said: “The evidence will speak for itself. I know I didn’t hurt John.

Mr Webster said: “I’m suggesting things quickly kicked off because of your aggression.”

Mr Cartwright replied: “You might suggest that.

"I can’t recall, but it’s still no reason for someone to be stabbed and killed.”

Cartwright was then questioned by Richard Pratt, QC for Bitton. His second account included the observation that the man allegedly with Dixon, said by the prosecution to be Bitton, took no part in the violence and was not in the house. He had stood at the gate and “actually retreated” from the property, he said.

The witness accepted it was possible he identified Bitton in a police identification procedure because he was at Mr Cingelis’s home socialising the previous evening.

He was “confused” when he first spoke to the police, he said.

Dixon, of Welsh Road, Harraby, admits possessing a knife in a public place while Bitton, of Eldon Drive, Harraby, who says he was at home at the time of the stabbing, denies that allegation.