TWO men have gone on trial accused of being involved in the murder of a Barrow dad who died from a single stab wound to the heart.

Mark James Bartholomew and Lee Black were both arrested shortly after the body of dad-of-three Andy Hackett was found in a back alley behind Gloucester Street in Barrow on December 10 of last year.

Their trial started yesterday at Preston Crown Court during which the prosecutor, Nigel Power QC, outlined the case for the crown.

“On December 10 Mark Bartholomew murdered Andy Hackett,” Mr Power told the jury of six men and six women.

“Mark Bartholomew stabbed Andy Hackett to death and afterwards Lee Black assisted Mark Bartholomew afterwards by cleaning up blood and washing a towel.”

The jury was told the prosecution allege Mr Hackett was murdered after a row broke out upstairs at Black’s home in Gloucester Street where Bartholomew was staying. Bartholomew is then said to have stabbed Mr Hackett and left the house after telling Black to clear the murder scene.

“Lee Black made a 999 call from a phone box in Risedale Road,” Mr Power told the court.

“Paramedics ended up in a back alley and came across a body in the street. Andy Hackett’s body was found on its back in the middle of the back alley.

“His arms were above his head. He had obvious facial trauma. Resuscitation attempts failed and his body was taken to Furness General Hospital.”

When police arrived at the house they found evidence of blood on the stairs and noted the washing machine was in mid cycle with just a towel inside.

Lee Black was arrested and while in police custody he was overheard by detention officer Suzanne Paton saying: “When someone from upstairs tells you to clean up you just do it,”, Mr Power said.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor claimed, Mark Bartholomew was found near Cavendish Dock by a dog walker.

“He was on his back, unconscious, in the middle of the track,” Mr Power said.

“The man rang 999 and started CPR which he continued until paramedics arrived. Mr Bartholomew was resuscitated and taken to Furness General Hospital.”

The jury was shown a map of the surrounding area to illustrate the proximity of Cavendish Dock to Gloucester Street where Mr Hackett had died.

Mr Power told the court a police search of the area of Salthouse Mills by PC Glenn Myerscough found a plastic bag and blood-stained bedsheet floating in the water. The bag contained a knife which the prosecution claim had traces of the DNA of both Mark Bartholomew and Andy Hackett.

In the meantime police had gone to Furness General Hospital where Bartholomew was being treated for a suspected drugs overdose.

Mr Power said: “He said to a police officer ‘When can I get my clothes back? Them clothes are clean, washing machine clean, they won’t find anything on them’.”

When he was arrested later that night Bartholomew responded: “Murder? Where at? Why are you doing this to me?”

A post mortem carried out by pathologist Alison Armour found 31-year-old Mr Hackett was killed by a single stab wound to the heart.

As the prosecutor outlined the case against the two defendants Bartholomew, wearing a black tracksuit, was seen shaking his head and laughing on a number of occasions. He repeatedly turned to his co-defendant, who was sat at the other end of the dock, and shook his head and made inaudible comments.

The judge, the Honorary Recorder of Preston Mark Brown, explained to the jury that he had allowed a request from Black’s defence team for 38-year-old Black to be absent during some of the trial.

“Part of the case doesn’t concern Lee Black; he has significant mental health issues,” the judge explained.

Both Black and Bartholomew have been remanded in custody since their arrest in December. Bartholomew has been remanded in prison while Black is detained at Guild Lodge, a secure mental health unit just outside of Preston.

Both defendants deny the charges. The trial continues.