A East Dulwich man stabbed a stranger in the neck with a Rambo-style hunting knife at his local off-licence after a row erupted over a cigarette, a court has heard.
Jahmel Riley, 25, is standing trial for knifing 39-year-old Dennis Anderson to death in the Pay Less store on Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, in the early hours of February 10.
The Old Bailey heard that Riley had been asking customers for cigarettes after entering the shop to buy alcohol following an evening at a baby shower.
The victim, from Lewisham, who had just left a 60th birthday party, allegedly responded by saying: “Why are you asking for cigarettes? Why don’t you get a job like the rest of us? What are you poncing or begging for?”
The jury heard that a tussle broke out between the two men when Riley pulled the knife from his waistband and Mr Anderson – who was significantly intoxicated – attempted to disarm him.
CCTV footage showed the two of them staggering to the entrance of the shop before going to ground and Riley appearing to make a stabbing motion to the victim’s neck.
A post-mortem examination revealed the knife had sliced into Mr Anderson’s upper chest, cutting his jugular, carotid artery and the upper lobe of the right lung.
Riley fled the scene, abandoning the knife in the gutter and also losing his cap.
The court was told that samples taken from the cap yielded a DNA match to Riley and officers contacted several members of his family including his father and brother in a bid to track him down.
He eventually handed himself in at Lewisham police station three days later.
In his police interview, Riley claimed he had been in a happy mood and was tipsy rather than drunk at the time of the incident.
He claimed Mr Anderson told him: “Do you think I would buy cigarettes to f****** give to you? You f****** tramp. Go and buy your own f****** cigarettes.”
The defendant said the exchange “got his defences up” and he had pulled the knife out to get Mr Anderson to leave him alone.
Riley, of Lordship Lane, denies murder, claiming he stabbed the victim accidentally when they fell.
He claims he had confiscated the knife from two youths he had seen brandishing it close to the baby shower earlier that evening, and had not got around to disposing of it.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said: “The prosecution’s case is that his behaviour with that knife, showing a strong familiarity with it and the wholly unlikely explanation that he happened to acquire such an item just before this incident, had not found a bin to throw it into in the meantime and happened to produce it when confronted by Anderson, demonstrates this was his own knife.”
The trial continues, and is expected to last a week.
Reporting by Tess de la Mare, PA.