THE man accused of murdering a father in his Hereford home has told a jury that he was acting in self-defence after he was attacked.

Stacy Hales, aged 36, of Belmont Road, Hereford, denies murdering Steven Paynter, 46, who was found dead inside a house in Ryelands Street, Whitecross, on August 3 last year.

Hales, defended by Michael Mather-Lees, appeared before Worcester Crown Court yesterday to give his evidence.

He said he first called at Mr Paynter’s address at around 11.30am on August 3 to see if Mr Paynter had the £40 owed to him for bike parts. According to Hales, Mr Paynter was just about to leave the house and asked Hales if he could come back later to collect the money.

Agreeing to do so, Hales said he left and went to Hereford city centre with his girlfriend, Kim Horry, as it was her birthday. Horry, 20, stands accused of assisting an offender, which she denies.

Hales said he returned to Ryelands Street on his way back from town to see if Mr Paynter was in, but he wasn’t.

Hales then said he returned home with Horry and was ‘in a good mood’ when he once again set out later that day to visit Mr Paynter.

Hales said he left accompanied by Stephen Munn and Mark Edwards who were also at the Belmont Road address, as he planned to get the £40 from Mr Paynter and then buy some beers, which he would need help carrying back home.

However, he said when he got to the address and asked Mr Paynter if he had the money, he claimed Mr Paynter swore at him under his breath.

Hales said: “He looked really angry. I knew something wasn’t right as soon as I saw him.

“I said ‘you told me to come back later’. He was grumbling something and looking at me strangely. He flew across the room at me. He grabbed me round the throat and slammed me against the wall.

“I pushed in to him and he fell over. We struggled.” Hales said he ended up on top of Mr Paynter on the sofa but said he didn’t once punch him and he didn’t see Mr Paynter pick up a knife. Hales, the court heard, only realised he himself had been stabbed in the arm when he was trying to get off the sofa. Hales denied handling a knife or any other sharp object during his time at the flat.

He said when he left the room Mr Paynter’s only injury appeared to be a cut on his lip and that as Hales left the house Mr Paynter was shouting after him. Hales said: “I was defending myself. I was scared.

“I couldn’t believe what had happened over £40. I thought it was stupid but I was shocked more than anything. I felt sick at what he had done to me.”

He said he returned to the house, and having used his t-shirt to cover his wounded arm he asked for a carrier bag from Horry, which she provided, although she said she didn’t know what Hales had done with the bag afterwards.

Hales said he put his bloody shirt in the bag as he wouldn’t have worn it again as ‘the blood wouldn’t have washed out’. He said he then put the bag in a bin outside the house.

When asked by Philip Bennetts QC, prosecuting, about why he didn’t report the incident to the police or go to hospital he said that he and the police ‘didn’t really get on’ and he thought he could patch the wound up himself.

The trial continues.