Carlisle man “stabbed to death in row over £135 woolly hat”

Pictured: John Cingelis Credit: Family photo

Two men accused of murdering a man who died after being stabbed in the chest at his Carlisle home have gone on trial.

A jury at the city’s crown court was told how an alleged dispute over a missing £135 woolly beanie hat - involving two sets of friends who had never met each other until the night of April 11 this year - ended in tragedy the following morning.

Blair Dixon and Alfonso Bitton each deny murdering 37-year-old John Cingelis. They further deny intentionally wounding his pal Barry Cartwright - who was stabbed to his upper arm.

Dixon and Bitton, both aged 25 and at the time staying together at Eldon Drive in the Harraby area of Carlisle, are said to have visited the nearby Brantwood Avenue home of Mr Cingelis and his on-off housemate Mr Cartwright with two female friends just before midnight.

There was drinking and chatting before the four visitors left “on friendly terms” less than 90 minutes later.“

However, the two defendants returned a few hours later,” prosecutor Michael Brady QC alleged to a jury as the pair went on trial, “Mr Dixon armed with a knife, incensed by the misapprehension that Mr Cingelis and Mr Cartwright had a hat that belonged to Mr Dixon.

“It was this misconception that caused the defendants to return to Brantwood Avenue where Mr Cingelis was stabbed to death and Mr Cartwright seriously injured.”After an altercation in which the injuries were inflicted, Mr Cartwright had dialled 999 from the house at 10:46am on April 12 to report they had been knifed.

Despite prompt medical treatment, Mr Cingelis died at the scene from a single deep stab wound to the chest.“It is the Crown’s case that Blair Dixon stabbed Barry Cartwright and fatally stabbed John Cingelis,” alleged Mr Brady.“

Although it was Mr Dixon who wielded the knife - a knife he had taken to the scene - present at the time was Alfonso Bitton who, by his presence but more importantly by his actions, lent encouragement and support to Mr Dixon and, say the Crown, is as responsible as Mr Dixon for the death of Mr Cingelis and the injury to Mr Cartwright.

”The expensive missing hat, a black Canada Goose beanie, was said to have be found on a radiator in the home of one of the female friends four days later “where Mr Dixon had left it”, jurors were told by the prosecutor.

He added: “The hat going missing had nothing to do with either Mr Cartwright or Mr Cingelis.”

Dixon had “reacted very badly” when arrested and told in custody his expensive clothing would be seized and, suggested Mr Brady, “seems to be very conscious about the cost of his clothing”.

Dixon told police: “I haven’t murdered anyone.”Bitton, meanwhile, claimed he was in bed all night.Dixon does admit possessing an offensive weapon, a knife, and it is expected his case will be that he was acting in lawful self-defence, the court heard.

Jurors were told they would hear scientific, witness and medical evidence during a hearing which is expected to last around two weeks.

The trial continues.