JURORS in the case of a man accused of stabbing his younger brother to death have retired to consider their verdict.

Vincent Bell, 36, denies murdering Damian Banks, 34, when an alcohol and cocaine fuelled row escalated out of control at his home in Durham in March this year.

Teesside Crown Court previously heard Bell armed himself with a 14cm kitchen knife and stabbed Mr Banks three times, once through the heart, before fleeing to his mother’s house.

But in his closing statement, John Elvidge, defending, said Bell didn’t intend to cause his brother serious harm – because he didn’t plunge the knife into his chest “all of the way in”.

Mr Elvidge said: “The blade of the knife was 14cm long. It did not penetrate in any part of the body to it’s full length. There is no sign of any form of pushing the knife all of the way in. The largest wound was in the arm, that was 7cm.

“If the knife was being used deliberately and with the intent of inflicting serious bodily harm by a dangerous assailant, that blade would have been pushed much deeper.

“Vincent Bell had a knife in his hand but he did not want to cause significant injury. If he wanted to do that he would have plunged the knife all of the way. He did not mean to stab his younger brother or cause serious harm.

“He went to his mum’s, he could have ran further away but didn’t. He could have thrown the knife away but he didn’t. He was supportive of his brother, they were friends and he was genuinely distraught after the incident.”

Mr Elvidge added Mr Banks was known to be “dangerous” and Bell grabbed the kitchen knife to protect himself as the row over cash and drugs spiralled out of control.

He said: “Damian Banks could be very dangerous. That is why Vincent Bell took the knife and shouted ‘f*** off’. He had the knife with him to encourage him to get away.

“Their mother said Damian would cause mayhem, particularly after drinking and she would put stuff against the bedroom door, he was a force to be reckoned with.”

The court previously heard the 34-year-old, who sustained three stab wounds and “defensive injuries” on his hands, previously assaulted the mother of his children and on one occasion broke her nose.

Bell, of Turnbull Close, Durham, denies a single count of murder.