A BARBER was stabbed to death in an arranged fight with a friend who is said to have been angry at being called "a divvy", a court was told.

Simon Bennett, 28, suffered a single knife wound to the heart in the dispute with Craig Conway as he walked home from a night out with friends.

Teesside Crown Court heard that the men had exchanged words earlier that day, and in a series of telephone calls and text messages agreed to meet.

The prosecution alleges that 30-year-old Conway – who admits manslaughter but denies murder – went to the scene in Middlesbrough with a knife.

The defendant says he did not want to fight, and that he picked something up off the ground as Mr Bennett got the better of him, and lashed out.

Closed circuit television pictures played to the jury show both men heading for the 11.30pm showdown on The Greenway, Thorntree, on May 8 this year.

The altercation was not captured on camera, but within two minutes of going out of shot, Conway was filmed on a motorbike fleeing from the scene.

Prosecutor Andrew Robertson, QC, told the jury the next time he was seen, was at 1am at the home of two uncles - after he had got rid of the knife.

He said it was "plain common sense" Conway had not found a weapon as they grappled on the ground, telling the jury: "That will be a big point for you to consider."

After being whisked away to a police station by a relative, as anger mounted in the area, Conway told detectives that the argument was "nonsensical".

He claimed it was over "who had said what to who" and as he walked to the meeting, sent a text message to Mr Bennett saying: "I'm not a divvy."

In the exchange of texts, the deceased had said to Conway "come see me, you know what happen" and had asked "you sure about this?", said Mr Robertson.

"It is our case that when this defendant set off for this confrontation he did so in possession of a knife, and he took it in the knowledge that he would need to use it to overcome Simon Bennett.

"[It was] a situation he could have backed out of, which he didn't back out of. No doubt, he didn't want to lose face, but he took that knife with him.

"That weapon has never been recovered, and the reason for that is simple. It has quite clearly been disposed of by the defendant, thwarting attempts by the police to establish where that knife had come from.

"We submit that that explanation to the police he has constructed is an account of damage limitation, designed to mask the reality of what really happened."

The trial continues.