Trouble broke out as drunken tensions rose at a family Christmas Day gathering, culminating in the host stabbing to death his sister’s partner, a court was told today (Tuesday November 29).

Successful businessman Adam Jenkins is said to have armed himself with three knives from the kitchen of his large home in Newbottle, near Houghton-le-Spring, climbed over a patio wall and approached Simon Birch in a yard outside.

Newcastle Crown Court was told that although Mr Birch put out his hands to show he was not armed, the defendant selected one of the knives and thrust it at his neck.

Jamie Hill KC, prosecuting, said such was the force of the blow that two veins and a vital artery were severed in Mr Birch’s neck, resulting in immediate heavy blood loss.

Mr Hill described them as “unsurvivable injuries”, from which, despite the attentions of other wider family members and the emergency services arriving at the scene, the 39-year-old father-of-two was declared dead shortly after midnight, just into Boxing Day morning, last year.

Read more: Man dies in suspected Christmas Day assault in Newbottle

The murder trial jury was shown stills from cctv footage from the house, Willow Brae, on Sunderland Road, of Jenkins thrusting one of the knives at Mr Birch, before walking back and climbing back over the patio wall, going back into the house.

Mr Hill said the defendant was to return outside to try to help stem the blood loss, as well as phoning the emergency services.

But the court was told his own partner was actually on the phone, having rung 999 to report earlier fighting within the house, at the time the fatal blow was delivered.

Mr Hill said while making his own emergency call, Jenkins told a call handler: “I’ve killed him,” and was heard crying, waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

He then said: “He (Mr Birch) tried to stab us.”

Mr Hill told the jury: “We say this evidence shows on one hand he was clearly shocked and no doubt upset at what he had done.

“But, at the same time, we say his early reaction was to lie, perhaps in some way trying to suggest this was, in some way, self-defence.”

When police arrived Jenkins was arrested on suspicion of assault, to which he replied: “Why assault?”

Mr Hill said: “Whether that was a significant response or he was just dazed by what he had been involved in, or was he seeking to deny responsibility at an early stage?”

His arrest was upgraded to one for murder at the police station later, where, in his first interview, he claimed he could not remember injuring Mr Birch.

He said he had been awoken by his son telling him his sister, Emma, had been fighting with her partner, Mr Birch.

Jenkins suggested that he tried to separate his own partner who had become involved in the confrontation, but implied he was briefly knocked out and when he came around Mr Birch was on top of him.

He said Birch had approached him shouting and bleeding and he took off his top to try to stem the blood flow.

Read more: Man charged with Christmas murder of Simon Birch in Newbottle

In a subsequent second interview Jenkins exercised his right to silence, only replying: “No comment”, and saying he could not bear to watch the cctv footage of the incident.

Mr Hill told the jury: “In due course you will have to say was it a genuine loss of memory or an inability to come to terms with the enormity of what he had done?

“We (the prosecution) say the cctv is clear and, sadly, it’s a straight forward case of murder.”

The 35-year-old defendant denies murder.

His trial, expected to last about a fortnight, proceeds.

Read next:

               Family pay tribute to Newbottle dad and son Simon Birch

               Newbottle murder accused remanded in custody at crown court

               Accused man from Newbottle facing murder trial in June

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