A MAN accused of killing a father-of-two on Canvey has claimed the victim was carrying a knife and attacked him first, a court has heard.

Jamie Lewis, 24, took to the stand at Basildon Crown Court yesterday to give evidence after being charged with the murder of Matt Portwood, 42.

Mr Portwood died following a brawl outside the Haystack Pub in Furtherwick Road in the early hours of Saturday, February 4.

During the first two weeks of the trial, the court heard that Lewis was allegedly armed with a knife and stabbed the victim twice in the neck.

However, yesterday the court heard Lewis claim he was unarmed and that Mr Portwood attacked him, leaving Lewis in “panic mode”.

John Cooper KC quizzed his client as they discussed the incident in a car park.

Lewis said: “As the incident develops Mr Portwood walks across from me in the opposite direction and he shouted something towards the crowd.

“I could tell he was going towards the group of people by the way he was walking so I stepped forward and tapped him.

“I said something along the lines of ‘don’t get involved’ or ‘let it go’, then he swung at me and my mind went into panic mode.”

Lewis alleges he saw a “shining” object in Mr Portwood’s possession which caused him to panic as he fell to the floor after being hit.

Previous evidence was given concerning Lewis carrying knives in the past after being stabbed but he told the jury that he was not carrying a knife on the night Mr Portwood died.

Lewis alleges Mr Portwood went on top of him after he was struck to the floor.

He added: “When he was on top of me everything went so quickly and I was panicking, I couldn’t breathe.

“I saw a glare coming from his hand, something was shining and he tried to drive it towards me so I dodged it, ducked down and then he grabbed me.

“Before I fell, I saw the same shining object on the floor.”

Mr Cooper said: “At the time were you aware that you cut Mr Portwood in any way? Did you at any stage during that incident deliberately try to stab or cut him?”

Lewis replied: “No, definitely not. I thought I was going to get bottled or stabbed, I thought I was finished.”

Keiron Aransibia, 28, is also standing trial accused of murder and his defence lawyers are set to give evidence later this week or early next week.

The trial continues.