A BURNLEY man was murdered after he fell out with a neighbour over a tablet device which he exchanged for alcohol instead of selling on, a court heard.

Keith Passmore, 60, was stabbed 30 times, allegedly with a kitchen knife and scissors, after falling out with Paul Howarth, who lived in the flat above his home in Clifton Road, and his friend Gary Burley, the court was told.


Mr Passmore was killed in a ‘sustained and forceful assault’, enough to pierce his heart and lungs and fracture bones in his face, prosecutors said.

And when Burley was quizzed by police later, he confessed to detectives that he had punched and kicked Mr Passmore, but insisted it was Howarth who had grabbed a knife and stabbed the victim, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, said that according to Burley, was sparked off because Mr Passmore had not sold on a computer tablet device, which he had been asked to do by Howarth.

Instead Mr Passmore is said to have left the tablet, as security, with a local shopkeeper in exchange for alcohol.

Mr Cole said that following the alleged murder on January 10, Howarth and Burley went to the home of Kathleen Green, at the Woodtop sheltered flats in Harcourt Street.

The court heard Ms Green was Howarth’s ex-girlfriend and the two of them could be seen on CCTV ‘larking around’ outside her flat while they attempted to persuade her that they had killed Mr Passmore.

Mr Cole said that the three eventually returned to the Clifton Road flats, where Ms Green found Mr Passmore slumped in a bath. Burley had armed himself with a multi-tool, with a hammer attachment, and threatened to kill Ms Green.

Security camera footage shows Ms Green running out of the Clifton Road flats. An hour later she made a 999 call.

Another call was made 10 minutes earlier to the emergency services by Howarth, who claimed to an operator that he had found Mr Passmore’s body in his flat, the court heard. He had gone on to say he had discovered the body in the victim’s own home.

Mr Cole told jurors that by the time a paramedic arrived Mr Passmore’s body had been left hanging off a chair in the lounge.

Police were alerted and officers found a bloodstained knife, broken off at the hilt. The flat was extensively bloodstained but there was a mop and bucket nearby, as if attempts had been made to clean the bathroom, the court heard.

Prosecutors added Howarth refused to answer questions after his arrest but Burley went on to confess to hitting Mr Passmore, but not carrying out the stabbing.

Mr Cole said the question of alcohol abuse would be a central feature of the case, with the defendants and Mr Passmore all having long-standing problems.

He added: “The Crown says that when you attack someone repeatedly with both a knife and a pair of scissors, in the way that Mr Passmore was attacked, then at the very least there was an intent to inflict really serious harm.

“The relevance as far as alcohol is concerned is that a drunken intent is still an intent. You cannot hide behind alcohol and say that you were drunk so you didn’t know what you were doing.”

Howarth, 48, of Clifton Road, and Burley, 44, of Herbert Road, both Burnley, each deny murdering Mr Passmore. Burley has pleaded not guilty to threatening to kill Ms Green and possession of an offensive weapon.

The trial continues