THE man accused of beating a 48-year-old to death told a jury he ‘definitely didn’t kill his friend’.

Michael Brierley was found dead in the hallway of his Berkeley Close, Nelson, home on November 8 with a catalogue of injuries to his head, body, arms and legs.

Murder accused Naeem Mustafa has been giving evidence during the third week of the Preston Crown Court trial.

Answering questions put to him by his barrister Peter Wright QC, Mustafa said he was not responsible for killing Mr Brierley or assaulting his partner Jeannie Wright,  who he is accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm upon.

When asked if he had murdered Mr Brierley, Mustafa told the jury: “No, definitely not. I had no reason to, he was my friend.”

When asked if he was responsible for punching Ms Wright, who suffered a bleed on her brain, he said: “No she’s a lovely old lady. She’s frail – I could never punch someone like that.”

Mustafa said that he met Mr Brierley around two years before his death and the pair had become friends - socialising, drinking and taking drugs together.

Earlier in the trial the jury were told by the prosecution that a catalogue of injuries were inflicted upon Mr Brierley before his death – likely to have been issued by a mix of weapons, stamps and kicks.

It is their case that ‘controlling’ Mustafa was responsible for inflicting the life-ending injuries – an allegation he denies.

Questioned on his relationship with Mr Brierley and Ms Wright, Mustafa was asked by Mr Wright QC: “The prosecution have said that you cuckooed them. Do you know what that means?” – “No” came his answer.

He was then asked if he had taken up residence within the couple’s Nelson bungalow and if he had taken advantage of them – to which he replied “No, not at all.”

Instead Mustafa told the jury that he had regularly helped the couple out by providing a bank account for Mr Brierley’s benefits to be paid into and helping out with jobs around the house such as cooking. He also said he had sourced a TV and stand for the pair and had given them a washing machine.

Just hours before Mr Brierley’s lifeless body was found, Mustafa was captured on CCTV hitting him across the head as they made their way to the shop to buy beer and whisky – but said he has no idea how he sustained his life-ending injuries.

Questioned about why he had hit him, Mustafa said that Mr Brierley has been poking him with his walking stick and that he was “really p***** off”.

Mr Wright QC asked him: “What was it that led you to strike him?”

“I was p***** off, we were messing about,” replied Mustafa.

The pair then sat on a wall near the shop for a while, where Mustafa told the jury he apologised to his friend. He said: “I apologised to Amos [Mr Brierley] as I didn’t mean to strike him. It was harder than it should have been. I did say sorry.

“Amos told me that Jeannie and he had been arguing and slapping each other last night (November 7). He told me that he had slapped Jeannie as she had backhanded him.”

Speaking about events on November 7, Mustafa said that Jodie Clough, accused of assisting an offender, had arrived at the bungalow at around 11pm and that the group had been listening to music, smoking crack cocaine, taking magic mushrooms and drinking.

When asked about marks on Mr Brierley's face the next morning, Mustafa claimed that it had ‘nothing to do with him’ as he had been in the bedroom with Clough.

He went on to say that he had heard Mr Brierley and Ms Wright arguing and ‘throwing things around’ and that he had asked Clough to defuse the situation by taking them a can of beer.

He then said that he went to sleep in the living room and next woke up at around 7am, when Mr Brierley had asked him to go to the shop to buy alcohol.

Mr Wright QC asked: “In between that time, had anything happened?” – “I was asleep,” Mustafa responded.

The defendant said that when they had returned from the shop he took a few sips of beer before going back to sleep – with Mr Brierley telling him was going out to ‘score drugs’.

Mustafa said he was unclear on how long Mr Brierley had been out, but when Mr Brierley returned he was ‘in pain’ and had a ‘swollen face’.

It is his case that Mr Brierley than started to have a nosebleed with blood spilling onto his jeans and filling into his hands.

At this stage a man came to the door looking to collect his dog which had been staying in the house.

Mr Wright QC asked his client: “Was there any reason to hide anything?” – “No,” came the response.

Around half an hour later the man returned with his son to collect the dog’s cage with Mr Wright asking: “Had anything happened to Amos?” – “No,” replied Mustafa.

“Had anything happened to Jeannie?” – “No,” he answered again.

“Had you assaulted either of them?” – “No.”

He said he let the man in to collect the cage and was then asked by Mr Wright QC where Mr Brierley was at that time, to which he responded saying he was in the shower.

Soon after Mustafa said he heard a thud and found Mr Brierley lying on the floor in the hallway between the shower room and the kitchen.

He said that he was shivering but awake and noticed a cut on the back of his head. When asked if he noticed any other injuries he said “No” – but that Mr Brierley had started to cough up blood, which sprayed onto his clothes.

Mustafa added that he had tried to move Mr Brierley and had put him in the recovery position and covered him with a coat.

He said that he told Ms Wright to call an ambulance, saying: “I said to Jeannie he doesn’t look well and I’ve seen a cut on the back of his head, I think we need an ambulance. She said no, he’s usually like this when he is drunk.”

He said Clough by this stage had woken up and come into the living room. He then claimed to have felt light-headed and left the house with Clough, who he said had an appointment later that morning in Colne.

A call was made to Jeannie Wright’s phone from Clough’s later that day – this, Mustafa claims, is when he found out Mr Brierley was dead.

Mustafa said: “I was very upset and shocked and couldn’t believe it’.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder in the early hours of the next morning in Clough’s home.

During the course of giving evidence Mustafa was asked if Mr Brierley or Jeannie were in fear of him, to which he responded “No.”

He was also asked about having any hold over Jodie Clough, to which he said: “No, not at all.”

Mustafa’s evidence in chief concluded on Tuesday morning and he was later cross-examined by Mr McMeekin on behalf of Jodie Clough. A report of this will be available soon.

The trial continues.