Killer battered his neighbour to death

David Wilke
David Wilke

A KILLER battered his next-door neighbour to death with a bottle in a ‘ferocious’ attack at a block of South Yorkshire flats, a court heard.

Justin Fishlock, aged 21, was found by police officers asleep and covered with blood on David Wilkes’ sofa after allegedly murdering him in his first-floor flat on Fortway Road, Brinsworth, Rotherham.

Fishlock is accused of striking Mr Wilkes repeatedly over the head with an empty rum bottle, before dragging his bleeding body onto the landing between their two homes in the early hours of March 26.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Fishlock - an alcoholic who had drunk about four times the legal drink-drive limit at the time of the killing - was discovered the next morning naked from the waist up, with blood on his face, hands, legs and around his mouth.

Fishlock told officers: “We had a bit of a disagreement earlier.”

Mr Wilkes, aged 39, suffered brain damage and broken facial bones and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A bite mark inflicted by Fishlock was found on one of his arms.

In a police interview, Fishlock claimed he caused the fatal injuries after Mr Wilkes tried to kiss him.

He told officers he thought his neighbour was about to sexually assault him.

But in an earlier interview, he had told police fellow alcoholic Mr Wilkes hurt his head while ‘stumbling around’ in his flat. He denied that any ‘inappropriate advances’ had been made.

Rodney Jameson QC, prosecuting, said the attack was heard by 73-year-old Doreen Neil, who lived above and heard banging.

“She thought he must have come home drunk and was kicking the bottom of his front door in so he could get into his flat.

“What she in fact heard was the sound of a ferocious assault, in which the defendant struck David Wilkes repeatedly on his head, using an empty rum bottle and probably fists, feet and potentially other parts of the body.”

He said Mr Wilkes’ body was found by Mrs Neil.

“She saw the blood on the carpet outside her flat, and a trail of bloody footprints leading downstairs.”

Mr Jameson said Mr Wilkes was living apart from his wife, Angela, when he died.

In a prepared statement, read at Fishlock’s second interview, he said Mr Wilkes told him he’d sent a text message to Angela, in which he claimed they were having sex.

“I told David I wasn’t happy about the message,” he said, adding he then fell asleep before Mr Wilkes tried to kiss him.

“I remember coming round - David was on the floor, and my hands had blood on them. I couldn’t believe what I’d done.”

Mr Jameson said a heavily blood-stained bottle was found on the hob.

“Essentially this man has drowned in his own blood,” Mr Jameson said.

Jurors heard police were previously called to Fortway Road in February over an allegation that Fishlock had assaulted Mr Wilkes, but no action was taken.

Fishlock admits manslaughter but denies murder.

The trial continues.