Second day of Whitby murder trial

Police tape on Spring Hill near Bagdale Hall, Whitby''w130801h
Police tape on Spring Hill near Bagdale Hall, Whitby''w130801h

A policeman told a murder trial jury today (Tuesday August 13) a woman was sobbing and hysterical, pressing a sock to a wound in her boyfriend’s chest when they arrived at their flat in Whitby.

PC Gavin Brown said he and a colleague had been just about to leave the nearby police station to answer another call when they were diverted to a reported stabbing in Springhill Court.

The door to the flat was open and before they got inside they could hear a female sobbing.

He told Leeds Crown Court he then also heard “gurgling sounds, like somebody breathing with fluid in their lungs.”

Once inside he saw a male, Gareth Matthews bare-chested on the settee with a female Rebecca Dormer semi-crouched facing him.

“He was rolling his head backwards and forwards almost as though he was trying to stand up but couldn’t,” he said.

PC Brown said initially he just thought the man was drunk because there was a smell of alcohol but when he looked closer could see blood coming from under the sock the woman was holding on his chest.

He also saw blood on the man’s trousers and on the settee and floor. “He was making sounds but at no point did he make comprehensible speech, just making gurgling sounds, as though struggling to breath.”

He told the jury the woman was “quite hysterical” and crying profusely. “As I approached her she turned and spoke to me along the lines ‘it wasn’t me, I haven’t done anything.’”

PC Brown said his colleague PC David Anderson went to check the rest of the property after asking Dormer where the knife was and her replying she did not have it.

He said Dormer was repeatedly saying: “ It wasn’t me I’m trying to help him.” She appeared drunk. “Her speech was slurred, she was glazed, moving about as though she was unsteady,” he said.

She was also blowing in the face of the man as though she thought that was helping him.

He told the jury it felt “like an eternity” waiting for the ambulance to arrive and they could see the man was getting worse.

After Dormer was moved away he lifted the sock and saw “the hole in his chest. I believe I said ‘oh no’, my heart sank at that point I knew we were dealing with something serious.”

A third officer had taken Dormer from the flat and after Mr Matthews slumped further down on the settee he and PC Anderson decided to move him on to the floor.

He was still breathing and they put him in the recovery position but then became aware he had stopped. They rolled him on to his back and began CPR on him.

When the ambulance arrived they took it in turns with the paramedic and driver to try and revive Mr Matthews for more than 20 minutes but he was then pronounced dead.

Dormer, 23 denies the murder of Mr Matthews, 32, on February 22 but has admitted his manslaughter.

The prosecution claims she stabbed him after becoming increasingly angry during an argument. The jury was reduced to 11 yesterday by illness to one of the women jurors.

Under cross-examination by Paul Greaney QC defending Dormer, PC Brown agreed at the time she was blowing into the face of Mr Matthews it had struck him as curious behaviour.

“Bizarre even,” asked Mr Greaney. “Yes,” replied the officer.

PC Anderson said he went into the flat first as a tasar trained officer and heard Dormer screaming “I need help, help me I’m trying to save his life.”

Paramedic Vanessa Thomas described in a statement how the ambulance had been despatched to the flat but because of the nature of the incident they were directed to wait round the corner until police had been there.

When she got inside she found a male on the floor in cardiac arrest and they tried to revive him for around 25 minutes without success.

The trial continues.