Murder accused claims he was acting in self defence

Jacob Woudstra
Jacob Woudstra

THE MAN accused of murdering Jacob Woudstra claims he did not mean to injure him in the confrontation in which the teenager was stabbed twice.

Adam Skilton, 42, of Wilton Road, Bexhill, was charged with murder after the 17-year-old student died following a fatal stab wound to the chest on April 5.

Giving evidence at Hove Crown Court on Tuesday and Wednesday (September 25 and 26), Skilton claimed he had been acting in self defence after Jacob and his older brother Levi, then 18, had entered The Shah pub yards from their home in Mount Pleasant Road, wielding metal bars.

He told the court that he had been defending himself with a bar stool and then a plastic table, and said that although he picked up a knife from the bar he had not deliberately used it as a weapon.

Levi had been involved in a long-running dispute over a drug debt amounting to £800 relating to cannabis, with another man Luke Stevens, in which Skilton had become involved.

Skilton denied threatening to ‘cut up’ and ‘smear up’ Levi during the dispute, and said: “I have never threatened to cut anybody up or do anything to anybody.”

The prosecution case is that Skilton produced a knife and threatened Levi that afternoon in the pub, causing him to run home and arm himself with a metal bar as a means of defence.

Accompanied by his younger brother Jacob, who had grabbed a broken golf club, Levi then returned to the pub to confront Skilton.

Skilton denied threatening Levi with a knife, though admitted telling him to leave the pub.

He said that minutes later: “The pub door crashed open, then I saw Levi come in with the metal bar. His brother came in directly behind him.”

Skilton had been drinking in the pub and had taken cocaine, but denied that his judgement had been clouded.

He said: “I didn’t lose my temper, I acted in fear and my adrenaline kicked in. All I was doing was defending myself.

“It looked like they came to bash me up.”

He said that he was using a bar stool as a means of defence and to force the brothers to move through the pub and out into the beer garden, adding that at one point he leant over the bar and picked up a knife ‘to defend myself I suppose, I dunno what I was going to do with it’.

It was while the three were in the beer garden that Levi hit Skilton on the head with the metal bar.

Skilton denied deliberately using the knife to harm Jacob however, and said: “I was not fully aware of what my right hand was doing.

“At that particular moment I was not paying attention to the knife.”

He claimed that it was not until after the brothers had retreated over the wall of the beer garden and he had left the pub that he became aware that Jacob had been injured, after receiving a phone call from a friend.

He said: “At first I thought he was joking, and then he said ‘No mate, that boy has died’. I couldn’t believe it because at the time I thought I was the only one who got hurt.”

Richard Barton, prosecuting, asked the defendant: “You are in Hastings, you find out that a lad has died, you don’t know how he died, but you know you have been involved. Why didn’t you drive to the police station?”

Skilton replied: “I was in a state of shock, I didn’t know what to do.

Instead, Skilton made his way to a friend’s flat in Streatham, London, where he was arrested by police on April 6, the following morning.

It is alleged that he told the landlady of The Shah pub not to give the police his name.

Skilton denied murder and perverting the course of justice when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court on June 27.

Mr Barton added: “It is very unfortunate that people say they heard you say you were going to stab (Levi), then a few days later you did stab someone.”

The trial continues.