A man is on trial accused of murdering a pub landlord he stabbed to death - this is what the jury heard this week.   

Lee Abbott knifed dad-of-three Christian Thornton 11 times after he barred him from the Hammer & Pincers in Widnes.

The drunken kickboxer, 35, of Rose Street, Widnes, admits manslaughter and possessing an offensive weapon in public.

But he denies murdering the 49-year-old, outside his pub in Liverpool Road, Hough Green, on Sunday, August 11 last year.

Opening the trial at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday afternoon, David McLachlan, QC, prosecuting, said Mr Thornton barred Abbott from the pub on August 2.

Christian Thornton

CCTV cameras captured the two men talking and shaking hands, before Abbott left, seemingly having accepted the decision.

However, he returned on August 3, and threatened to burn the pub down, so Mr Thornton reported it to the police.

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When officers visited the pub, he said he didn't want Abbott to be prosecuted, but asked them to tell him he was barred.

On August 4, the landlord posted a picture of Abbott on the Widnes PubWatch Facebook page.

Lee Abbott, 35, of Rose Street, Widnes, has been charged with the murder of pub landlord Christian Thornton

In the post, Mr Thornton said two weeks beforehand Abbott had been telling female customers he was carrying a knife.

He attended a PubWatch meeting on August 6, when Abbott was banned from every affiliated pub in Halton for a year.

Halton council wrote to Abbott informing him of this decision on August 8, ahead of the fatal incident three days later.

Mr McLachlan said Abbott walked into the pub at 3.15pm, but Mr Thornton, who was practising darts, pushed him outside.

Pub landlord Christian Thornton was stabbed to death at the Hammer and Pincers Pub in Widnes

Witnesses described the dad saying "no, get out, you're barred" and telling "very aggravated" Abbott: "Calm down, Lee, go home."

They said Abbott asked "Why am I barred? What have I done?" before pushing him and saying: "You know I would've protected you."

Mr McLachlan said CCTV footage showed Mr Thornton ringing 999 and showing Abbott, who walked away, but then ran at him.

One woman said Mr Thornton shouted "get back" but Abbott pulled out "a f***ing huge kitchen knife" and lunged at him.

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A man, who was stood outside, said: "There was no stopping him, he just ran like a mad man.

"He pulled his knife out and stabbed him three, two or three times, turned fell, got up and then fled."

Mr Thornton collapsed and neither paramedics, nor a doctor who arrived by helicopter, could save his life.

Police recovered the bloodstained blade, which snapped in half during the attack, on the ground nearby.

Police at the Hammer & Pincers pub in Widnes after its landlord Christian Thornton was stabbed

They found the handle and the black rucksack Abbott carried it in at a friend's house in Arden, Widnes, where he was arrested an hour later.

Abbott was an estimated three and a half times the drink drive limit at the time of the attack and had also taken cocaine the night before.

Mr McLachlan said prosecutors understood Abbott would argue it wasn't murder because he didn't have the necessary intent, due to being "heavily intoxicated", and would rely on the partial defence of diminished responsibility due to "an abnormality of mental functioning".

He said: "We do not accept either of these defences and will assert that this is simply a case of murder.

"Murder pure and simple, where a man knows what he did, he took a knife to the scene, and he stabbed somebody 11 times."

Mr Thornton's family cried in court on Tuesday, as they listened to the 999 call he made while being stabbed to death.

Jurors listened to Mr Thornton telling the operator that Abbott had returned and requesting a police car, at 3.18pm.

He could then be heard to say "Lee, back off now... Lee…" then to yell "f*** off" and "agh, agh".

Police at the Hammer & Pincers pub in Widnes after its landlord Christian Thornton was stabbed

The jury also watched CCTV footage, which showed Abbott enter the pub and Mr Thornton escort him out, at 3.16pm.

There was then a confrontation, during which Abbott grabbed him by the back of the head, and they pushed each other.

The landlord, who had darts in one hand, put them down and showed Abbott he was ringing 999, and Abbott walked away.

But he turned and ran back, took the knife out of his rucksack and repeatedly stabbed the victim, who tried to fend him off.

Mr Thornton's family again sobbed in the public gallery as the 52-second clip of the attack was played without interruption.

At one stage, having been stabbed when he was bent over, the landlord punched Abbott, which knocked him backwards.

Abbott then fled up the driveway, before Mr Thornton who was bleeding heavily stumbled forwards and collapsed.

On Wednesday, the jury watched police bodycam footage of Abbott's arrest at a friend's house in Arden, Widnes.

Lee Abbott was arrested at a friend's house in Arden, Widnes

Abbott then said: "I'm guilty of everything you say - you don't need any evidence, I stabbed him to f***."

The jury also heard transcripts of Abbot's two police interviews, when he admitted threatening to burn the pub down.

Abbott said he didn't mean it and had been annoyed because Mr Thornton wouldn't explain why he was barred.

Floral tributes left outside the Hammer & Pincers pub in Widnes following the stabbing of landlord Christian Thornton

He said it related to an incident in July when he was stood on "the ramp", a sloped approach to the pub, with two friends.

Abbott said they were perhaps being loud or doing drugs so Mr Thornton asked them to leave and he convicted the men to go, but he hadn't done anything wrong.

He said getting banned by Widnes PubWatch felt like a "vendetta" so while drunk he went to seek an explanation on August 11.

Abbott told police he "completely lost it" but said "I knew what I was going to do" and agreed he wanted to stab Mr Thornton.

Pictured is Liverpool Crown Court

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He denied intending to kill him but said after he saw red "obviously I knew I was gonna hurt him, I knew I was gonna stab him". 

Abbott then told officers: "I just feel ashamed. I feel ashamed of what's gone on. I feel disgusted, and erm, I feel sorry for his family, I just, I just, his family, I've took, I've took the bloody kids' dad away."

Asked if he wanted to say anything to Mr Thornton's family, he replied: "Tell them I'm, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I never meant to took [sic] him."

On Thursday, the jury was shown the landlord's torn chef jacket, left covered in blood, with eight knife holes in the "thick" fabric.

Forensic pathologist Dr Paul Johnson, who carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Thornton's body, explained his injuries.

He said the "heavily built" 5ft 10in, 17st 4lb victim suffered 11 "incised wounds", including 10 stab wounds and one slash wound.

Dr Johnson said the most significant was a 3.4cm long wound, which cut through his left lung and the left ventricle of the heart.

He also suffered "a large gaping stab wound" to the stomach, 12.3cm long and up to 15cm deep, which cut into the small bowel.

The doctor said two wounds which took bone off a forearm and a rib, would have required a "moderate to severe degree of force".

Dr Johnson concluded: "He has died of multiple stab wounds."

Abbott gave evidence on Friday, when he claimed he "lost the plot" because he was sexually abused by a "gangster" as a teen.

He said he suffered from low testosterone levels and too much iron in his blood, and the treatment for both affecting his thinking.

The dad, who has a son with his ex-wife and daughter with his girlfriend, told jurors he also experienced anxiety and paranoia.

He said his paranoia was linked to the trauma of being sexually abused by a gangster, who groomed him when he was 14.

Abbott said he couldn't name his abuser because his family would be in danger, but he had told doctors about the abuse.

He said he believed the gangster was behind an unspecified attempt on his life on a Welsh beach in 2012 by a man called Tony.

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Abbott said he later became close friends with Tony, but he was shot in the head, and he drank alcohol to cope with his trauma.

He said he also became a cocaine addict after his dad's death in 2006 and it caused him "major psychosis" and schizophrenia.

Abbott said: "I was absolutely convinced by the end of 2012 I was Jesus Christ."

He told the jury he suspected his abuser had put Mr Thornton up to getting him barred from all of the PubWatch venues in Halton.

Tributes to the pub landlord who was stabbed to death at the Hammer and Pincers Pub in Widnes.

Abbott said he went to the pub for an explanation on August 11 and was carrying a knife because his paranoid was at "extreme levels".

He claimed Mr Thornton was aggressive, wouldn't give him an answer, headbutted him and possibly slashed his hand with a dart.

Abbott said he felt in "grave danger" when the landlord called police and thought they would shoot him dead because he had a knife.

He said the stabbing was the culmination of "20 years of hell" and paranoia and it was only when Mr Thornton punched him he came to his senses.

Under questioning by Mr McLachlan, he accepted he had never been sectioned or diagnosed with schizophrenia, and only mentioned emotional and physical but not sexual abuse in two reports to doctors in 2015 and 2017, but insisted he didn't intend anything during the stabbing because he was "a madman".

He said: "Christian Thornton was a victim of my circumstances. I've been in hell for 20 years. I'm in prison now. I've been a prisoner of my own mind."

Mr McLachlan accused Abbott of blaming everyone else and again asked him to confirm he had never been diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The prosecutor said: "Because you're not are you? You’re just an angry man who held a grudge that day."

Abbott said: "That's not the case."

(Proceeding)