Murder trial jury told confrontation which led to dad being stabbed five times was 'just bad timing'

Peter Gilling.
Peter Gilling.

A confrontation which led to a fatal stabbing was 'just bad timing', a court heard.

Peter Gilling died from a leg wound after a scuffle with Hartlepool boxer Darren Willans and co-accused Derek Pallas outside a block of flats.

Cleveland Police at the scene in Melsonby Court, Billingham, as murder probe launched following the death of Peter Gilling.

Cleveland Police at the scene in Melsonby Court, Billingham, as murder probe launched following the death of Peter Gilling.

Willans and Pallas are both accused of murdering Mr Gilling, a 39-year-old drug user.

A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard the two defendants were reluctantly given a lift to the flats at Melsonby Court, Billingham, by Liam Laverick.

Mr Laverick, 18, said he had just dropped a friend at another address when Willans and Pallas got into his car.

"They told me to take them to the flats," said Mr Laverick.

Cleveland Police at the scene in Melsonby Court, Billingham, following the death of Peter Gilling.

Cleveland Police at the scene in Melsonby Court, Billingham, following the death of Peter Gilling.

"I knew who they were even though I didn't really knock around with them.

"I said 'no', to giving them a lift, but they were in the car so I felt pressured into taking them.

"Knowing what they are into, I assumed they were going to the flats to get drugs."

Mr Laverick said he waited outside Melsonby Court while Willans and Pallas went inside.

"It was around midnight," said Mr Laverick.

"I rang them to ask how long they would be, and they said they were coming out.

"As they did so, Peter Gilling was riding towards the flats on his bike.

"It was just bad timing that they met."

Mr Laverick said there was an initial confrontation between Willans and Mr Gilling.

"I knew they'd had some chew in the past," said Mr Laverick.

"Daz (Willans) punched Peter Gilling, who pulled something out of his pocket.

"The way he was holding it, I thought it was knife.

"There was a scuffle between the three of them, Peter Gilling ended up on the ground.

"The other two got back in my car.

"I saw Peter Gilling lift his head, then drop it again.

"I assumed they had given him a hiding, but I didn't really want to know what they had done.

"They told me to take them back to Daz's house, which I did, then I went home."

The court heard a craft knife was found at the scene of the stabbing, but it was not the murder weapon because Mr Gilling's wounds were too deep to have been caused by a blade of that size.

Mr Laverick said he didn't see any other knife, and nothing was left in his car.

Willans, 31, of Warren Court, Hartlepool, and Pallas, 36, of Marsh House Avene, Billingham, both deny murder on September 29 last year.

When interviewed by police, both admitted they were present at the time of the incident, and both said they had not stabbed Mr Gilling.

The trial is in its second day, and it is expected to last up to three weeks.