A MAN accused of murder at the Manjaros restaurant in Middlesbrough on Christmas Eve told a court: “I did not kill him.”

Efreeqi Siddig, 21, pleaded not guilty to the murder of 41-year-old Mazhar Ali in a short, packed hearing at Teesside Crown Court.

Speaking through an interpreter and via video link to Durham Prison, he answered to the murder charge: “I’m not guilty. I did not kill him.”

He appeared upset as he denied two more charges of having a bladed article, each a knife, in a public place on Clarendon Road, Middlesbrough.

Siddig, of Princes Road, Gresham, Middlesbrough, was charged after an alleged stabbing in the kitchen of the Linthorpe Road restaurant on December 24 last year.

Mr Ali, from Stockton, was taken to James Cook University Hospital but died on Christmas Day.

A trial expected to last two weeks or more is scheduled to start in just over three months’ time before Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough.