One of the men accused of murdering a Blackpool dad said he acted in ‘complete self defence’ when he punched him during a fatal late night pub row.
David Easter, 55, of Herons Reach, Blackpool, told a murder trial how 42-year-old Simon Marx was ‘like a raging bull’ at the Newton Arms pub in the early hours of October 7 2017, and had become increasingly aggressive as the night went on.
Easter, and co-defendant Steven Lane, 29, of Shalgrove Field, Fulwood, stand accused of murdering Mr Marx by punching and stamping on him, causing him to die of a brain injury 29 to 30 hours later after he flew out on holiday to Turkey.
Lane is also accused of glassing Rick Alston, who was visiting the pub that night with Mr Marx.
The jury at Preston Crown Court had previously heard how there had been ‘bad blood’ between Lane and one of Mr Marx’s friends, Gareth Ramsey, who was also at the Newton Arms that night with his brother Gavin.
CCTV footage in the minutes leading up to the fracas showed Mr Marx and his friends approaching Lane from the vaults area of the pub several times in the late hours of October 6 and early hours of October 7, before violence broke out at around 00.15am.
Easter, who visited the pub with Lane, his son and a friend, admitted punching Mr Marx, but said he was protecting himself, as Mr Marx had challenged him to a fight moments before.
He told the court: “He asked me to go out into the car park, obviously for a fight.”
Nicholas Clarke, defending Easter, asked: “What was your reaction?”
Easter said: “I said I’m not going outside with anybody. He said ‘right, we’ll do it here then’ and marched around the table towards me like a raging bull, with clenched fists, obviously coming to hit me.
“I felt like a sitting duck on the stool so I jumped off the stool and pushed him away from me.”
Mr Clarke said: “After you pushed him back where did he go?”
Easter said: “He went into the table on my right hand side. He came back at me. He was trying to punch.”
He added that he had ‘no chance at all’ to think about his actions and could only think about ‘survival instinct’. He said: “I just lashed out in self defence.”
After punching Mr Marx ‘no more than three times’, he said he walked away from the scene and did not see Lane allegedly stamp on Mr Marx.
When asked how he felt about Mr Marx’s death, Easter said he felt ‘devastated’.
But Gordon Cole, prosecuting, said Easter was ‘not so devastated as to tell the truth’.
A statement earlier provided by Easter to the police read: “He (Simon Marx) looked like he wanted a fight. I told him to grow up.
“When he approached me I thought he was going to assault me.
“I couldn’t punch him as earlier in the day I had trapped my hand doing some manual repairs’.”
However, Easter denied ever saying this, and said he only signed the statement on the advice of a solicitor.
Mr Cole told the court: “There were only two people seriously injured that night. Simon Marx and Rick Alston.
“The two people that were in the vicinity of you and Mr Lane immediately before they sustained these injuries.
“The only people that could have caused these injuries are you and Mr Lane.
“When (Simon Marx and Rick Alston) came over to the table, you said they were being aggressive towards you and Mr Lane.
“These two people, one ends up with an injury from which he dies, and the other ends up with a cut to the head. How did these injuries happen?
“Let’s not worry about protecting Mr Lane. Did he stamp?”
Easter replied: “I didn’t see anyone stamp.”
Mr Cole asked: “How about using a glass to Mr Alston’s head; did you see that?”
Easter said: “I didn’t see that.”
Mr Cole said: “But when you came to leave, when looking back, two men were on the floor.
“The two men were on the floor because of what you and Mr Lane did.”
Easter replied: “No.”
He denied that Lane had been behaving aggressively that night.
He also denied hearing Lane allegedly threaten to glass the next person who came out of the vaults area of the pub shortly before the violence broke out.
Mr Cole said: “The reason you can’t say you heard it is because you are protecting Steven Lane, aren’t you?”
Easter replied: “No.”