Man accused of killing Wirral dad-of-four claims he was fearful for his own safety
THE man accused of murdering a dad-of-four from Wirral claimed the victim harassed him after they argued over a cocaine deal.
An inquest into the death of Marc Clarke also heard that Steven James Branscombe had resorted to carrying around a knife for his own protection.
Mr Clarke, a qualified chef, from Portia Avenue, Bebington, was stabbed to death outside shops on Teehey Lane in Bebington on January 27.
The inquest into the 42-year-old’s death before Wirral Coroner Christopher Johnson heard Branscombe accepted his actions caused Mr Clarke’s death, but denied it was ever his intention to kill him.
Coroner’s officer Arthur Flower told the court: “During the initial [police] interview Branscombe described what had happened as a moment of madness.
“He stated that he knew the deceased and has been harassed by him over a 10 year period, none of which he had reported to the police.
“This had reportedly stemmed from a period in which he used to buy cocaine from the deceased.
“He had on one occasion complained about the quality of the cocaine and was told to ‘p*** off’.”
Mr Flower said that Branscombe says he was assaulted shortly afterwards and that “he believed the deceased was behind that” and further incidents such as damage to his house windows and car.
He added: “To the best of his knowledge the deceased had not been directly involved but Branscombe believed he was.”
Mr Flower told the court that Branscombe had seen Mr Clarke on Teehey Lane and had chosen to “deliberately drive his own vehicle at the deceased’s vehicle”.
He said that his intention had been to “simply have a straightener” but that because Mr Clarke had allegedly started to walk towards him with an aggressive look on his face, he stabbed him “fearing for his own safety”.
Mr Flower added: “He [Branscombe] confirmed that no-one else had been involved and that he had by his actions been responsible for the death of the deceased. However, he denied that it had been his intention to kill him.”
The inquest was adjourned for a full hearing at a future date.
At the time of his death Mr Clarke’s wife Louise paid tribute to her “sweet gentle giant”.
Hundreds of tributes were left on Facebook and friends of the Tranmere Rovers fan unveiled a banner at Prenton Park which read: “RIP Marc Clarke, Tranmere’s Finest.”
Branscombe, 42, of Boswell Street, Birkenhead, is charged with murdering Mr Clarke.
His next hearing is on April 23.