The man accused of murdering Damien Bendelow says he doesn’t remember stabbing the 20-year-old but accepts he did so after being attacked and noticing a knife drop to the floor.
Damien Bendelow died in hospital on Sunday, January 26 – hours after being stabbed six times at the Cattle Market car park in Liskeard.
The prosecution alleges that Smythe, with the help of his now deceased friend Mark Jackson, tracked Damien and his friends to the car park before savagely attacking him after the two had a fight in the White Horse pub earlier that night.
Smythe gave evidence on Thursday morning and confirmed he is a father of four who has worked in the building trade.
He moved to Cornwall in 2013 and says on January 25 had been carrying out work at the home of friends David May and Chantelle Napier.
After finishing the work for the day Smythe told the jury he went to the pub with Mr May and drank four pints and two shots, as well as consuming cocaine in the toilet and diazepam to help with anxiety.
Answering the questions of defence barrister Richard Smith QC, Smythe said that although he does remember speaking to Damien’s 16-year-old girlfriend regarding her father who he worked with, he doesn’t remember the fight with Damien and has experienced blackouts when taking diazepam in the past.
Smythe says his memory comes back in when he was thrown out of the door of the pub.
He said: “When I first came around it looked like everyone was trying to get out of the pub. I thought I best get out of there as I didn’t understand what was going on.”
Mr Smith asked Smythe how he felt when he found out about Damien’s death the following morning, to which he replied “devastated, it was gut churning”.
Smythe went home after the pub before setting off again, saying he doesn’t remember why he headed back towards the White Horse but presumes it was to meet Jackson whom he often met to smoke cannabis.
The defendant claimed he was making his way through the Cattle Market car park towards The White Horse, the route he usually took, when he spotted Damien’s girlfriend.
Asked what happened next, Smythe mumbled: “I passed a couple of people but didn’t really take any notice.
“I carried on walking then Damien was on the right coming at me so I’ve hit him.”
Smythe added until that night he’d never met Damien, and given his blackouts, didn’t realise it was Damien he’d had a fight with in the pub.
He said: “It looked like I was going to attack me so I hit him. He went back and then I heard something drop and looked down and there was a knife.
“I picked it up as I was terrified of anyone getting hold of it. It was like a kitchen knife. He came at me and the next thing someone said I stabbed him.”
Smythe told the jury he hadn’t taken the knife with him when he marched up the hill towards the pub. He accepts it must have been him who stabbed Damien but says he doesn’t recall it.
Smythe was then quizzed as to why he initially told police he had been attacked by a group before changing his story and saying it was just Damien going at him.
He said: “I was all over the shop. I was a mess and just nodding and going with what the solicitor said.”
Smythe added that he couldn’t explain why he told police he fell to the floor before changing his mind.
Mr Smith asked Smyhe how he felt when he picked the knife up. He said: “I didn’t know if anyone else had anything. I’ve never been involved in anything like that. I was scared.
“I thought I was going to be attacked.”
Smythe said he then went to Kings Meadow Lane near the White Horse to speak to Jackson and “make sense of it”.
He described having no recollection of disposing of his jacket or putting on Jackson’s top, as could be seen on CCTV.
Smythe said his next recollection was waking up at Jackson’s the next morning, before making his way to David May’s and drinking cider, smoking cannabis and taking diazepam.
Smythe then handed himself in after flagging down a passing police car.
Mr Smith asked Smythe how he felt at the beginning of the proceedings.
He said: “I was contemplating suicide. I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”
When asked by prosecuting barrister Jo Martin QC about the numerous differences between his prepared statement read to police and the version he gave in court, Smythe said the inconsistencies were because he “was a mess”.
Smythe denies murder. The trial continues and is expected to conclude early next week.