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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Barrow man found dead with accused beside him

A FORMER Barrow bar worker was found dead in a blood-splattered bathroom with his alleged killer face down beside him.

The horrifying details of exactly how Barrow man, Luke Hollingsworth, died at his Carlisle home last year emerged in the first day of his murder trial.

His friend Jamie Armstrong, 21, of Warwick Road, Carlisle, denies stabbing him to death – claiming the pair were attacked by two men demanding money and drugs.

The jury of four men and eight women was sworn in at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday for the first day of what is set to be a four-week trial.

Former Furness Railway pub worker Mr Hollingsworth was found at his home in Etterby Lea Road, Stanwix, on July 10 after he failed to turn up to work at the Woodrow Wilson pub, in Botchergate. The cause of death was described as “multiple stab wounds”.

Brian Cummings, prosecuting, revealed Mr Hollingsworth’s girlfriend – who cannot be named for legal reasons – discovered the gruesome scene after being concerned when she could not get hold of him. He explained that she went to Mr Hollingsworth’s home and noticed his bicycle was still outside the house and his only set of keys could be seen on the inside of the locked back door. He said: “She put her hands to the glass and looked through the conservatory window to see if she could see anything,”

Mr Cummings continued: “She could see a couple of splashes of blood on the floor, and knew that these had not been there the previous day as she had mopped the floor.”

The woman, who had met Mr Hollingsworth at the pub where they both worked, had noticed the front bedroom window was open and so took a set of ladders from the garage and used them to clamber into the semi-detached house.

Mr Cummings told the court: “The bed was right away from the wall, the bedside tables were upside down and there was stuff strewn about.

“She went through the bedroom and out onto the landing and she saw that the bathroom doorway was open, and that a figure was lying face down on the floor.

“She thought at first it was Luke, but realised... it was in fact the defendant, Jamie Armstrong. Luke was sitting next to him. He, Luke, had one arm draped over the bath and was slumped up.”

The jury was told the victim’s eyes were open, but he had no pulse. His distraught girlfriend later told police that she shook Mr Hollingsworth and shouted his name but got no response.

Armstrong was seriously injured and seemingly unconscious, but “began to stir” after her arrival.

After dashing out to call the police on her mobile – which she had left in the garage – the woman returned to the house to see the defendant coming down the stairs.

Mr Cummings said: “He appeared to her to be really faint and was stumbling around.

“She said to him: ‘What have you done? You’ve killed Luke. What have you done?’ He replied: ‘It wasn’t me. Help me.’”

The jury was shown photographs of Armstrong’s hand wounds which, Mr Cummings admitted, were “extremely serious”.

Witness statements were also heard yesterday from former colleagues at the Woodrow Wilson – which Mr Hollingsworth’s mum, Gill, had run until two weeks prior to his death. They recalled seeing him several hours before his death, when he “stopped by” the pub briefly.

The jury was also told about Mr Hollingsworth and Armstrong’s involvement with cannabis, with the pair both described as being dealers of the drug within the Carlisle area.

The last person to see Mr Hollingsworth alive was a man named Ewan Murphy who bought one eighth of an ounce of cannabis off him by the back gate of the Stanwix house.

Mr Cummings said that in his evidence, Mr Murphy recalls seeing a man he knew only as Jamie beside Mr Hollingsworth at the time of the deal. Armstrong denies murder. The trial continues.

Mr Hollingsworth’s mother, Jill Hollingsworth, is well known in Barrow as the former landlady of the Furness Railway. He grew up in the town and still has relatives and friends living locally who he visited regularly. Mrs Hollingsworth left the town in May 2008.

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