A MAN accused of murder had his three-year-old and five-year-old children in the back of his car as he stabbed a man to death, a court heard.

Bhekisipho Mudise Dube, known locally as Marcus Harper, 29, of Corringham, died from 25 stab wounds, including a fatal wound to his chest, on March 21 in Queen Elizabeth Drive, Corringham, shortly before 7.40pm.

Gilbert Morgan, 24, of Lincoln Road, Basildon, is standing trial accused of murder at Basildon Crown Court, but claims it was in self-defence.

The court heard yesterday, on the first day of the trial, that Mr Harper had “got himself in bad company” in particular drug dealers, and had made a habit of robbing them for their money.

On the day in question, the court heard moments before the incident Mr Harper had borrowed a cigarette from a group, then told them to leave the area as he was about to rob someone.

That group of young men then heard a dark BMW crash into a parked car on Queen Elizabeth Drive.

The court heard that crash happened as Morgan fled the scene, and the car was recovered two days later and traces of both Morgan’s and Mr Harper’s blood were found inside.

Mr Harper had entered the passenger seat of Morgan’s car, and the court heard “an exchange took place”, before Mr Harper pulled out an 18.5cm kitchen knife and demanded he handed over everything he had.

A scuffle followed within the car, with Morgan “fighting for his life”, according to police interviews.

Morgan has claimed that Mr Harper remained in control of the knife throughout, while he fought him off, using his hands to push the blade away.

The defendant suffered multiple cuts to his hands and punctures to his legs.

Morgan then released his seat-belt and threw himself towards Mr Harper, with the pair falling out of the car.

It was at this point the fatal wound occurred.

Two days after Mr Harper’s death, Morgan attended Basildon police station alongside his solicitor and a pre-prepared statement.

Prosecutor William Carter, said: “He said he had arranged to meet someone at the location in relation to drugs.

“He said he did not know in advance who he was meeting.

“He says he had his three and five-year-old children in his car at the time.

“Morgan claims he was not looking for trouble and he was not armed with any weapons.”

Mr Carter added: “He described Marcus Harper as jabbing the knife at him.

“The defendant locked his left hand around the knife, Marcus Harper had the handle of the knife and that is how it was for the entirety.”

Opening the prosecution, Mr Carter, said there was no dispute that the defendant was responsible for injuries, only whether it was self-defence.

The trial continues

Opening the prosecution, Mr Carter said: “There is no dispute in this case that it was this defendant that was responsible for these injuries.

“It is accepted that he stabbed Marcus Harper.

“Gilbert Morgan is charged with the murder of Marcus Harper.

“He says that he had acted purely in self defence in this incident, and that will be the central issue in this case.

“Did Gilbert Morgan murder Marcus Harper or may he have been acting in self defence?”

The trial continues.