Pals filmed snorting ketamine at Chinese buffet before one turns killer

CCTV footage reveals a group of mates snorting ketamine at a Chinese restaurant just hours before one of them was fatally stabbed by another.

The body of 25 year old Joe Holland was discovered by police in a locked bathroom, lying in a pool of blood. James Preston, 21, admits to causing the fatal wounds but insists he acted in self-defence after Mr Holland attacked him first with the knife.

A bent and bloodied kitchen knife was found next to the body. Preston is currently on trial at Liverpool Crown Court, denying charges of murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The court heard that the stabbing followed a night out fuelled by ketamine, starting with dinner at Jumbo Chinese Restaurant, drinks at Deysbrook Pub, and ending with inhaling nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, at Preston's family home.

The jury was shown CCTV footage from inside the restaurant and pub entrance, showing Preston snorting a white powder, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Sean Ruud, who made the booking at the restaurant, confirmed to the jury that the drug they used was ketamine. He described the atmosphere in the Chinese restaurant as normal, with everyone chatting and nothing out of the ordinary.

However, things took a turn for the worse around 12.15am at Preston's home, which was empty as his parents were on holiday in Egypt. Mr Ruud told the court he was unexpectedly "hit in the back of the head" by Preston.

He told the jury: "It didn't put me on the floor like. I can just remember being backed into the corner as he tried to kick me. Joe was saying 'what have you done, what have you done', James is calling me a rat, I am saying 'what are you on about?'."

Mr Ruud said the attack stopped after Mr Holland intervened, and he realised he had a mark under his left eye which he believed had been caused by a kick from Preston.

The jury saw an image of the picture to his face, showing a graze with three "linear" red marks underneath.

He told the jury: "He stopped and then they carried on having more balloons. I said 'why have you done that?', and I got no answer so I just left. I walked out then."

Nick Johnson KC, defending Preston, suggested that the incident did not come out of the blue and resulted from Mr Ruud "getting in Mr Preston's face" because he had been "challenged" over playing loud music and "making a mess".

Mr Ruud said he "could not recall that".

Mr Johnson asked what effect ketamine and alcohol had on him during the night. Mr Ruud said: "Basically, don't know what you're, doing, you're on the moon."

Mr Johnson suggested: "On a different planet basically?", which Mr Ruud agreed. Mr Johnson asked: "Would out of it be a good expression?"

Mr Ruud replied: "Not completely out of it because we were all walking weren't we, as you can see on the video evidence we were all walking so we weren't completely out of it."

The jury heard Preston left the property in a taxi at around 5.30am, catching a train from Liverpool Lime Street to London at 6.04am. He got off in Runcorn station, and boarded a service to Birmingham.

His phone was traced to the Dover area, but he handed himself in to police in Ashford, Kent, on June 10 and was arrested. The jury heard he will claim he believed Mr Holland was trying to kill him and there was a "dynamic struggle" with a knife ending in Mr Holland's death.

Mark Ford, KC, prosecuting, said in his opening address: "The Crown say that James Preston was the aggressor on June 8, he was not acting, we say, in self defence at all."

"When you come to consider this issue, you may which to consider, for example, the number of blows struck by defendant, the force of those blows, the actions of the defendant both before and after the killing and his flight to the Kent coast with his passport, in the aftermath."

"And what of the note? We say the note he left was nothing more than an attempt by the defendant to falsely justify his murderous act and to avoid responsibility for what he had done. And that is why, ladies and gentlemen, we say on behalf of the Crown, this defendant is guilty of murder."

The trial continues.

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