A JILTED lover brutally stabbed his ex-partner’s new boyfriend 17 times in a frenzied attack days after watching a Facebook live video stream of the pair sharing their first kiss in a pub, a court heard.
Armed with a knife and wearing gloves in the summer Ashley Luff plunged a blade into Nathan Birch’s neck, back, arm, across his chest and slashed him across the right cheek in the ‘deliberate and... carefully planned’ attack as Mr Birch was dating mother-of-one Chantelle Price, jurors were told.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Luff, who denies attempted murder and an alternative of wounding with intent, punched 24-year-old Mr Birch trying to knock him off his bike as the TGI Friday’s chef cycled away from work on a Sunday night.
Prosecutor Simon Jones said a ‘relentless stabbing’ attack ensued with 32-year-old Luff knocking Mr Birch into a ditch while inflicting 17 injuries with a knife brought to the scene in Southampton Road, Park Gate, last August.
Yesterday at court Mr Birch, a father, told jurors how Luff seemed to be ‘mocking’ him during the attack when the defendant responded ‘what have I done?’ to Mr Birch asking the question first.
It was only when Luff, of Bedford Drive, Fareham, also fell into the ditch that Mr Birch was able to flee down the road – leaving behind a ‘pool of blood’ – back to his workplace despite being in a ‘life-threatening condition’ with a collapsed right lung.
The court heard Mr Birch suffered three wounds to his chest ‘one of which was directly over the heart’, with two cuts to his left flank, one on each arm, and multiple wounds on his back and neck.
A medic found ‘at least two of those deeply penetrated the body and so were the result of considerable force,’ Mr Jones said.
Giving evidence yesterday afternoon, Mr Birch said: ‘He jumped out and then he tried to hit me off my bike.
‘I managed to stay up, I got off the bike and then he just came at me, I thought he was punching me. I tried to keep him back, pushing him away.
‘I couldn’t stop him lashing out. Eventually we scuffled over to a ditch. He tried to kick me in there even further and as he did that he fell into the ditch himself.
‘With him in the ditch I quickly managed to jump out and ran back to work.
‘As I was doing this I can see and hear him chasing me but as he knew I was going back to work he did turn around and go back the other way.’
‘It felt like ages but I don’t think it was that long – it felt like forever.
‘He was just swinging at me, I thought I was being punched or hit. All over, chest, neck, back, I know he was just trying to hit me everywhere.’
He added: ‘I didn’t know to be honest I was being stabbed, I thought I was just being punched.
‘I didn’t know until I managed to get back to work. Everyone else noticed - it was at that point I noticed.’
Luff, who had been with Miss Price for five years, was arrested when a police officer responding to the incident scaled a fence and wall near Halfords and Luff dropped to floor on hearing the officer shout.
Asked if he had anything sharp on him, Mr Jones told jurors that Luff - who had been working at ASK Italian restaurant until 9.30-9.45pm – said: ‘I threw it in a drain.’
Forensics officers later recovered a blade in Long Acres residential street, with Mr Birch’s blood found on the tip of the knife.
Bloodied gloves were found in a silver BMW linked to Luff – with Mr Jones telling jurors the defendant dumped them after the attack before potentially attempting to retrieve his mobile phone from the ditch.
Jurors were told a man, who the prosecution say was Luff, called Mr Birch’s workplace asking when he was working in the days before the attack on August 19 at 10.15pm.
On August 4, just over two weeks before the stabbing, Luff had seen his ex-partner Miss Price and Mr Birch share their first kiss when it was caught on a Facebook live video stream in the Slug and Lettuce pub in Fareham.
Mr Birch told how he had kept a rounders bat in his rucksack after feeling ‘threatened’ by Luff in messages on Facebook.
Luff had messaged Mr Birch saying: ‘Swear to god, you hurt Doll in any sort of way I’ll flip. This has hurt me and broke me I still want and love her – it’s killing me. You better look after her.’
Sarah Jones QC, for Luff, said the messages ‘weren’t anything other than two guys fighting over a girl in the most pointless of terms’.
The defendant had come to the pub at about 10.30pm – ‘within the hour’ of the kiss captured on video, Mr Jones said. CCTV showed Luff and his ex argue outside.
The court heard Luff told police who arrested him on August 19 that he had been hit over the head with the rounders bat – which Mr Birch said was bought for a staff party but not used – and told a custody nurse he was ‘dragged across the ground’ leaving him feeling dazed.
But Mr Jones said: ‘That is a deliberate lie told by this defendant in an attempt to, we say, justify his actions. In any event we say nothing could have justified the ferocity and extent of the attack with a knife.’
He added: ‘The evidence drives towards the irresistible and only conclusion in this case that the defendant attempted to murder Nathan Birch.’