Man found guilty of Ceylon Place murder

A MAN who plunged a knife into his friend’s heart in a row over a woman has been found guilty of murder today.

Drifter Mark Watson stabbed Russian born Alex Sokolnikov during a fight at a flat in Ceylon Place in Eastbourne in February last year.

At Lewes Crown Court on Friday, 49-year-old Watson was told by Judge Richard Brown he would be sentenced to life. He will be sentenced next month.

Watson had admitted stabbing 38-year-old Mr Sokolnikov, known as Russian Alex, but had argued he had armed himself with a knife to avid a fight and inflicted the fatal injury in self defence after Mr Sokolnikov had attacked him.

But after a seven day trial a jury of six men and six women found him guilty of murder with a majority verdict.

The court had previously heard the two men had both been vying for the attention of Leah Gar, who lived at the flat in the town centre.

Miss Gar, Watson and Mr Sokolnikov had all met each other at the Salvation Army Rebourne Centre, a drop in venue for homeless and vulnerable people in Langney Road, and the Oasis Christian Outreach Project in Seaside.

Miss Gar and alcoholic and homeless drifter Watson had been in a brief relationship but it had broken up because of Watson’s aggressive and drunken behaviour.

On the night of the fatal stabbing Watson had called at Miss Gar’s flat in a bid to kick start their relationship and found Mr Sokolnikov, who had been living rough in Eastbourne for 14 years, at the flat with her.

Watson claimed the Russian had been aggressive and told him to leave because he wanted to get together with Miss Gar. The court heard Watson went into the kitchen, took a knife and when Mr Sokolnikov leapt off the sofa to attack him he had tried to defend himself.

The result was that Mr Sokolnikov suffered injuries to his heart and lungs and staggered out into the street where he lay dying on the pavement.

Despite the efforts of medics – including renowned trauma specialist Roly Cottingham who opened up Mr Sokolnikov’s chest in a torch light operation on the pavement – the Russian died with an hour.