‘Road rage’ pedestrian stabbed BMW driver father to death, court hears

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Alexander Layton stabbed James Stokoe (pictured) in his BMW in Thornaby, Teesside, in May last year, jurors were told


Alexander Layton stabbed James Stokoe (pictured) in his BMW in Thornaby, Teesside, in May last year, jurors were told 

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A BMW driver was ‘brutally’ stabbed to death by a ‘road rage’ pedestrian in front of his four-year-old son after an argument about stepping out into a busy road, a court has heard.

Alexander Layton, 34, allegedly pulled a large knife from a shopping bag, opened the car door and knifed James Stokoe, 40, three times in the leg and once in the arm before fleeing on foot in Thornaby, Teesside in May last year.

Jurors at Teesside Crown Court were told that married father Mr Stokoe had taken his son to see his grandparents and the boy was strapped in a car seat at the time of the attack.

Layton, from Thornaby, denies murder and possessing an offensive weapon, and will claim self-defence. 

Peter Makepeace QC, prosecuting, said Layton had got off a bus after a trip to a food bank when he crossed a busy main road, causing Mr Stokoe to brake sharply. The pair then argued about stepping out into a busy road when Mr Stokoe was killed, the court was told.

CCTV and dashcam footage showed Layton getting off a bus, almost being run over, then stabbing Mr Stokoe four times.

The driver had pulled over to remonstrate with Layton, getting out of his car to shout at him, then getting back in the car and pulling over at the side of the road close to the pedestrian.

Witnesses said Mr Stokoe shouted: ‘Are you f****** daft? I nearly knocked you over. I’ve got a kid in this car.’

Layton, on the other side of the road at this point, apparently shouted back: ‘Are you talking to me? F*** off. I’m here. Come over. Come on.’

Mr Makepeace said: ‘Clearly Mr Stokoe must have been shocked, indeed angry, about the near miss that had occurred. That might have been compounded by the fact (his son) was in a booster seat in the back of the car.’

Neighbours rushed out of their homes to help James Stokoe before police and paramedics arrived at the scene in Thornaby last year

Neighbours rushed out of their homes to help James Stokoe before police and paramedics arrived at the scene in Thornaby last year

Mr Stokoe, a 40-year-old married father, had taken his son to see his grandparents and the boy was strapped in a car seat at the time of the attack, Teesside Crown Court heard

Mr Stokoe, a 40-year-old married father, had taken his son to see his grandparents and the boy was strapped in a car seat at the time of the attack, Teesside Crown Court heard

But, the prosecution said, that did not explain or excuse Layton’s actions as he allegedly stabbed Mr Stokoe to death.

The emergency services were called and an air ambulance landed at the scene but he died in the back of an ambulance.

His wife, a lab technician at Durham University, even called him to warn that traffic was bad in the area due to the ongoing incident, the court heard.

Layton fled the scene, dumped the carving knife, which has not been found, and went camping in Great Ayton, before he was arrested the next night in a pizza shop.

Mr Makepeace said Layton told police after he was arrested it had been an ‘accident’, he had not meant to do it and ‘it only went into his leg’.

The prosecution said he gave detectives a statement claiming he was acting in self-defence and was scared.

Mr Makepeace said: ‘Mr Layton acted in a calm, considered but brutal manner.’ 

Police at the scene of the stabbing in Thornaby, Teesside in May last year

Police at the scene of the stabbing in Thornaby, Teesside in May last year

The prosecutor added: ‘It was witnessed by several passers-by.

‘It was a verbal dispute and it followed a near miss after this defendant went on to Trenchard Avenue, seemingly without looking or paying attention, into the path of Mr Stokoe’s BMW.

‘During the verbal exchange, Mr Layton pulled out a large carving knife and repeatedly stabbed Mr Stokoe, who bled to death within minutes.’

In the hours immediately before the attack, Layton had threatened to murder a man who owed him money, and his family, the court heard.

Earlier still on the same day he had texted a contact to share conspiracy theories about 5G masts, Mr Makepeace said.

In the early hours of that day, he also emailed Stockton Borough Council to say he needed help with food and fuel and was feeling suicidal.

After a trip to Stockton to pick up food from a church, at around 2pm his path crossed that of Mr Stokoe, ‘a complete stranger’ who worked at a local garage, Mr Makepeace said.

The trial continues. 

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