Stabbed to death in the heart ‘over a woman’

Ceylon Place Eastbourne, the scene of the incident
Ceylon Place Eastbourne, the scene of the incident
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A HOMELESS man stabbed a man in the heart in a row over a woman, a court has heard.

Mark Watson plunged a kitchen knife into Russian Alexandre Sokolnikov’s chest when a fight erupted at a basement flat in Ceylon Place.

Thirty-eight-year-old Mr Sokolnikov, known to friends as Alex, staggered out into the street before collapsing on the pavement.

Despite the best efforts of passers-by including renowned trauma consultant Roly Cottingham who lives nearby and opened up the dying man’s chest by torchlight as he lay on the pavement in a bid to save him, Mr Sokolnikov died within an hour.

At Lewes Crown Court on Monday morning 50-year-old Watson appeared before Judge Richard Brown.

Dressed in a blue t-shirt and grey jogging bottoms, the homeless and unemployed man pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Sokolnikov on February 21 last year.

The jury of six men and six women were told Watson and Mr Sokolnikov, together with a woman Leah Gar, all attended the Salvation Army Rebourne Centre, a drop-in facility for homeless and vulnerable people in Langney Road.

Watson began a relationship with Miss Gar and moved into her flat in Ceylon Place but their affair ended after a few weeks because of his heavy drinking and aggressive behaviour.

Three weeks after they broke up Mr Sokolnikov, who had been living rough in Eastbourne for 14 years, moved into Miss Gar’s flat

Charles Miskin QC, prosecuting, told the court trouble flared between the two men on the night of February 21 when Watson turned up at Miss Gar’s flat and wanted a reconciliation with her.

Mr Miskin said, “The defendant stabbed Alex to death in Miss Gar’s living room and the motive was jealousy.”

The prosecutor said emergency services were called to the flat by a number of people including Miss Gar and passers-by Holly Allan and James Duck, who said Mr Sokolnikov was alive as he lay on the pavement.

He was rushed to Eastbourne DGH but died at 10.10pm.

Mr Miskin said Eastbourne PC Nicholas Arthur was among the first at the scene and followed a trail of blood back into the flat where he found Watson with a swollen face, covered in blood from head to toe.

“Blood was spattered around the room and the defendant told PC Arthur that Mr Sokolnikov shouldn’t have hit him,” said Mr Miskin. “The knife was recovered from outside in the garden.”

Watson was taken to hospital with injuries he sustained from being hit with a dumbbell weight by Mr Sokolnikov.

A forensic examination by scientist Bridget March revealed Mr Sokolnikov was stabbed in the heart and lungs with the kitchen knife and while Mr Sokolnikov had drunk a small amount, Watson was nine times over the legal drink drive limit.

The case against Watson is expected to last for eight days and the trial is continuing.