Bus passenger killed in ’uncontrolled and vicious’ stabbing, court told

A bus passenger was knifed to death in an "uncontrolled and vicious" stabbing after a row between strangers on the vehicle’s upper deck, a court has heard.

Kieran Gillespie asked his victim Leon Hazle "what are you looking at?" moments before a bloody confrontation on the number 11 night bus in Birmingham.

He denies murdering Mr Hazle, who was heading home after a night out with friends, and claimed he had acted in self-defence.

Gillespie told police he had pulled "a pair of scissors" on his 36-year-old victim after claiming he thought he had been stabbed in the face by Mr Hazle, who was found to be unarmed.

Opening the prosecution on Wednesday, Stephen Linehan QC said Gillespie had given a "completely untrue" account for what was an "uncontrolled and vicious stabbing".

Addressing the jury at Birmingham Crown Court, Mr Linehan described how after his arrest, Gillespie claimed he was carrying scissors in order to cut his "split ends".

However, Mr Linehan said medical examination of Mr Hazle’s multiple stab wounds, including a severed carotid artery, would show such injuries would not have been caused by the blunt edges of a closed pair of scissors.

The Crown’s QC added: "He drew that weapon and we say you’ll conclude it was a knife of some type.

"In interview, Gillespie said he stabbed him two to three times - it was far more than that."

The jury were told that the bus’s CCTV would show a row breaking out between the men, with Mr Hazle punching Gillespie in the face.

Outlining the prosecution’s case, Mr Linehan said: "What we suggest you will see is the defendant with his left hand, he gets hold of Leon Hazle, and he has him under his control, and with his right hand repeatedly thrusts his weapon back and forth into Mr Hazle, wounding him in a number places."

Just four minutes after Gillespie got on the bus at 10.34pm on January 23, his victim lay bleeding and either "dead or dying", as his attacker left.

After his arrest, the 25-year-old from Wellesbourne Road, Birmingham, told officers the disagreement arose because Mr Hazle, from Smethwick, West Midlands, kept looking at him on the back row.

Gillespie claimed that Mr Hazle took offence at his objection to him "rolling a spliff", but also told how he had moved seats to "chat up" a girl on the same row.

In his police interview, Gillespie said: "He looked back at me like three or four times, but the fourth time he did look for a long time.

"So I said to him ’what are you looking at?’"

Mr Linehan told the jury: "Sadly, how many times have you heard ’what are you looking at’ as an introduction to violence?

"It’s like a challenge."

Both men stood up and confronted each other, with Mr Hazle’s punch connecting with Gillespie’s face.

Mr Hazle was then repeatedly stabbed and was dead within minutes, the court heard.

Afterwards, Gillespie fled the scene in Rookery Road, but returned to the bus a minute later to recover his baseball cap, the prosecution claimed.

He told police he threw the weapon away, and disposed of his hoody and trousers in a clothing bank.

The trial, expected to last a week, continues.

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