A KEY witness in a Rayleigh murder trial was hesitant to speak to police following a fatal stabbing at a New Year’s party, a court has heard.

Two mothers, Hannah Sindrey, 24, and Kelly Blackwell, 26, are accused of stabbing 31-year-old Paul Fletcher to death at a home in Worcester Drive in the early hours of January 1.

Both women deny the charges and blame each other for Mr Fletcher’s death.

Mr Fletcher, known by friends as "Dod", was in a relationship with Sindrey; the pair had got engaged within two weeks of meeting each other while he was on a release scheme from prison last year, Basildon Crown Court heard.

A fourth adult who attended the party, Paul Carter, told the court he was reluctant to talk to police and had failed to come forward to officers of his own accord after learning of the killing.

“I don’t want to be the person putting anyone in prison,” he said while being cross-examined by Blackwell’s defence counsel.

Mr Carter had earlier been at the flat, but said that he left the party and did not know that Mr Fletcher had been stabbed until the next day when he saw it on social media.

He claimed to have only had one drink of vodka, and was unaware that Mr Fletcher had been taking cocaine and amphetamines.

Mr Carter explained he had left the party because he was “fed up” with the hostile environment after Mr Fletcher accused Sindrey – who at the time was pregnant – of cheating on him and confiscated her phone.

When asked why he failed to present himself to police, Mr Carter said: “I was in shock. I didn’t know what to think”.

A note written by Mr Carter before his police interview was read out in the court room: “Shut my eyes now, I’m feeling drained, my head is just going round, I’ve done nothing, wish I hadn’t seen anything,” it said.

When pressed by Blackwell’s counsel, he denied he had seen Sindrey – who he admitted he was good friends with and reluctant to give evidence against – stab Mr Fletcher.

The trial continues.