A passerby who denies stabbing a Polish sex attacker to death after rescuing a lone teenage girl from his clutches told a jury there were ‘plenty of other possibilities’ for how the man died.
Stephen Sleaford, 38, described how he disarmed knife-wielding Janusz Smoderek, 48, after going to help the 18-year-old girl as she was molested by the drunk factory worker in Boston.
A murder trial jury has been told Sleaford at first acted in a ‘lawful and praiseworthy manner’ when he and another man went to the screaming girl’s aid as she was sexually assaulted by the Pole on her way home in Sleaford Road.
Having intervened lawfully after Smoderek grabbed both of the girl’s breasts it is alleged Sleaford then knifed the father-of-three in the heart as they wrestled on the floor.
But giving evidence at Lincoln Crown Court, Mr Sleaford insisted it was Smoderek who produced a knife after he and another man, Adam Golding, gave chase following the 4am sex attack.
The jury heard Smoderek had visited a local lap dancing club and was filmed on CCTV ‘hovering’ around Boston town centre during the early hours. Tests carried out after his death showed he was nearly three times over the drink-drive limit for alcohol.
Sleaford told the jury he heard the girl’s ‘hysterical screams’ and then pursued Smoderek up the road where he disarmed him.
“He pulled a knife, he was opening it,” Mr Sleaford explained.
“He still had one hand on the blade and one hand on the handle. I tripped him and he let go of it when he was toppling backwards.
“My hands were around the knife, it was spur of the moment.”
The jury heard how Sleaford continued to walk the girl home. Under cross-examination from prosecution barrister Tim Spencer, QC, Mr Sleaford denied that he knew it was safe to continue their journey as he had stabbed Smoderek.
Mr Spencer asked him: “You knew it was safe to go along that bit of road because you had stabbed him, five times, hard thrusts some of them?” But Mr Sleaford replied: “No, not at all.”
Smoderek’s body was found in a nearby front garden the next morning. A post mortem showed he had suffered five stab wounds to his chest.
When asked by Mr Spencer what other possibilities there were for Smoderek’s death Sleaford replied: “Plenty.”
Sleaford added: “His body wasn’t found until 7.30am. There aren’t just me and Mr Golding who live in Boston.
“Anything could have happened, I was with the girl.”
Sleaford, of no fixed address, denies murdering Janusz Smoderek on September 11 2011. The trial continues.