‘I lost it’ says man accused of murder

THE man accused of murdering Scarborough landscape gardener Gary Virr “lost it” in a violent rage before unleashing a tirade of punches on his victim, a court heard.

John Stamford, 52, of Kealia Court, in Wooler Street, told Leeds Crown Court he lashed out at Mr Virr, 48, when he failed to take any interest in his battle with social services to keep his baby daughter.

Mr Virr’s body was found in his Eastborough flat in December last year with eight head injuries and a stuffed bunny rabbit toy wedged into his mouth.

Stamford fled the scene with blood on his hands and jeans, and later told a friend he thought he had killed someone but denies murder.

On the day of the alleged murder, Stamford, who was taking large doses of methadone and valium, had arrived at Mr Virr’s flat on his mountain bike and told the court he was feeling the strain of his battle with social services.

He said the pair started to argue and admitted hitting Mr Virr but denied any association with the soft toy.

He said: “I was down in the dumps and my head was battered.

“The atmosphere in the flat was alright and I showed him a photograph of my daughter on my phone but he was not really bothered.

“He had a bit of an attitude and was not being sympathetic, he more or less turned round to me and said I could have another child any time I wanted.

“I was on a real downer and we started arguing, he told me to hit him if I wanted and that is when I lost it.

“I punched him and he went to the floor, at that point I did not know if I had knocked him out or if he was putting it on.

“That is when I panicked and put him on the bed and did one.

“Even if we had had a barney, had I seen anything in his mouth I would have taken it out, I have never seen that soft toy before in my life.”

Immediately after the incident, the court heard Stamford went to a friend’s house and changed his bloodstained jeans.

Stamford was then asked by Simon Bourne-Arton QC, defending, what he did in the days after the alleged murder.

He added: “I went about my normal routine and I didn’t tell anyone what happened in the flat.

“If you are mates with someone and you have a fall-out you feel guilty and wait for them to make the first move.

“My head was done in with everything that was going on in my life and what I was having to put up with.”

The trial continues.