Man on trial for murdering Odiham chef claims it was self-defence

Basingstoke Gazette: Henry Stangroom, who was stabbed to death in Battersea. Henry Stangroom, who was stabbed to death in Battersea.

A MAN on trial for murdering a young chef from Odiham has described stabbing him in self-defence after making an inflammatory comment about a fatal car accident.

Financial expert Andrew Morris, 30, was found with a harpoon shot into his head after he stabbed his housemate Henry Stangroom to death, allegedly in revenge for his sister Michelle Stangroom, 28, dumping him.

Morris said that in the hours before the incident, he discovered a hammer in Mr Stangroom’s bedroom and believed Mr Stangroom had stabbed a yellow cuddly duck toy on his bed – which Mr Morris sprayed with his ex-girlfriends perfume.

He said when Mr Stangroom, 21, arrived home from work, at Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly, in the early hours of the morning he confronted Morris, who had drunk nearly two bottles of wine, about using his laptop, stalking and beating-up his sister. Morris admitted using his laptop but said he had not been stalking his sister or beaten her up.

Morris told a jury, at the Old Bailey, that Mr Stangroom attacked him, in their home in Lavender Sweep, Battersea, after he made a comment about the car accident, in London Road, Odiham, in which Mr Stangroom fatally hit 19-year-old Jack Bland, from Odiham, on September 11, 2011.

A report from The Gazette on the accident was read out in court.

Morris said: "I said something to Henry that I shouldn't have said. I told him, on the way past his room, that it wasn't me that ruined lives, it was him. I was referring to the accident that he had.”

Morris said Mr Stangroom hit him hard over the back of the head in the kitchen with an unknown object, causing him to bleed.

He said: “He was upset with me for what I said and he said that he could understand why Michelle would never want to see me again and he didn’t want to see me again and I was never going to see Michelle again.”

Morris made his way to Mr Stangroom’s bedroom and claimed the chef then attacked him, stabbing at him with a silver knife, from his drawer, and cutting his arms as he tried to defend himself.

He said: “It was my fault. I said some things that I shouldn’t have said. I probably said the most hurtful thing I could have ever said to him.”

Morris told the jury he went to find his phone, in his bedroom, when he picked up a spear gun, next to his bed, in order to threaten Mr Stangroom to phone the emergency services.

He said: “I went into his room holding the spear gun. I was pointing it towards the floor. He was at the foot of his bed at this point. He had the other [brown handled] knife in his hand.

“I told Henry to call for help and he lifted the knife he had in his hand, well above his head, and was looking at me. I was shaking and I pointed the spear gun at him and I screamed at him to drop the knife. He did, he sort of tossed the knife towards me, underarm.”

Morris told the jury at this point Mr Stangroom acted as if he was dialling the emergency services so he lowered the spear gun, but Mr Stangroom grabbed hold of it.

He said: “He tugged at it and I let go of the spear gun. I released it away from me and it went off. It was not expected by me at all. I did not intend to fire the spear gun.”

He said Mr Stangroom put his hand up to his face in pain and later swung at Morris when he tried to help him, smashing his glasses off his face.

Morris then claimed that while he tried to get help, Mr Stangroom again started stabbing at him with a knife.

He said: “As he came towards me, I put my hand up. Still the knife came towards me and I reached down by my side, at this point, and I picked up the brown-handled knife. As he came towards me, I put the knife up in front of me and I pushed it towards him.

“I wanted him to stop stabbing at me. He would have stabbed me somewhere around the head or the neck. The knife he was holding was cutting my hand and was up by my face, and he was quite close to me. The knife that I was holding was in his chest.

“I took his weight with my left hand and pushed him off of me and back on to the bed. I went forwards with him and dropped the knife.”

Morris then described trying to give Mr Stangroom mouth-to-mouth at which point Mr Stangroom, who was struggling to breathe, coughed-up blood into his mouth.

He told the court when he realised Mr Stangroom was dead he decided to take his own life by slitting his wrists in the bath where he spent a couple of hours.

However, when this did not work, Morris fetched the spear gun from Mr Stangroom’s room, placed it under his chin and triggered it into his head using his toe.

Morris denies a single count of murder. He claims he killed Mr Stangroom in self-defence.

The trial continues.

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