Murder trial: Fatal South Yorkshire stabbing ‘was not sparked by drugs row’

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The brother of an alleged murder victim stormed angrily out of the witness box as he gave evidence in court and denied the killing was sparked by a row over drugs.

Philip Smith, aged 36, was allegedly murdered by 37-year-old Gary McKeown, who knifed him and slashed him across the face at his house on Church Street, Thurnscoe, Barnsley.

Jurors at Sheffield Crown Court were told the incident happened after an argument over a girl escalated between the victim’s younger brother, Ben Smith, and McKeown’s nephew, also called Gary McKeown.

Rodney Jameson QC, prosecuting, said Mr Smith mistakenly sent abusive texts to McKeown Snr which were intended for his nephew.

But Shaun Smith QC, defending, said the texts were meant for McKeown and related to drug dealing, telling Mr Smith “You were going to sort him out because he was buying his drugs from someone else.”

Mr Smith told the jury he did not deal drugs, but admitted going to Church Street to fight McKeown on January 28.

He said his brother was ‘not happy’ when he noticed that McKeown had bitten him over his right eyebrow later that afternoon.

During questioning by Mr Smith, Ben Smith swore and stormed out of the witness box.

He was being asked why he had taken a baseball bat with him when the brothers returned to Church Street to fight McKeown again at around 4pm.

Ben Smith said he’d taken the bat for his dog to play with.

Jurors were ushered out of the courtroom while Ben was brought back into the witness box to continue his evidence.

McKeown denies murder, but admits attacking Philip Smith in self-defence.

Philip died from massive blood loss.

The trial continues.