North Walsham: Man guilty of killing after £10 debt dispute

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image captionThomas Moore was pronounced dead at the scene on Bacton Road

A man who stabbed to death the friend of someone he owed £10 to has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Matthew Constantinou knifed Thomas Moore, 42, in the neck in October after an altercation outside the defendant's home in North Walsham, Norfolk.

The defendant claimed he feared he or his mother would be "seriously injured" in a "tug of war" over a baseball bat.

Constantinou, 42, of Antingham Drive, was cleared of murder but found guilty of the less serious charge.

He will be sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on 20 May.

The trial heard Mr Moore and the defendant were not known to each other, but Constantinou knew Mr Moore's friend Ricky Marshall "reasonably well" and regularly bought cannabis from him.

'I'll gut you'

Prosecutor Peter Gair said that on 2 October "the mood had soured somewhat" between Mr Marshall and Constantinou over a £10 debt.

The court heard Mr Marshall said via text that he would speak to the defendant's mother, to which Constantinou later responded: "I'll gut you."

Constantinou, who lived with his mother, told the court it was an "extremely poor choice of words - a figure of speech, just a deterrent not to come round".

The trial heard Mr Moore and Mr Marshall then went to Constantinou's home where there was a "confrontation", and the prosecution said "the defendant emerged... in front of the house and was holding a baseball bat".

Constantinou claimed he "thought I'd try to scare them away", that Mr Moore looked "like a man possessed", with "wide eyes" and they were then in a "tug of war" over the bat.

He told jurors he saw a knife drop and at this point he felt "panicked" and "grabbed it".

Mr Gair said Mr Marshall could see the pair "struggling" and "could see the defendant swing at Tom with his right hand".

Mr Moore was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Det Insp Lewis Craske, from Norfolk and Suffolk's Major Investigation Team, said the victim "needlessly lost his life over a £10 cannabis debt".

"Regardless of the catalyst for the argument, this case demonstrates that violence is not the answer. There are no winners... with lives on both sides affected forever," he said.

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