A RECENTLY-widowed man was murdered by a prolific meat thief, a court has heard.

Steven Butterworth was stabbed at his home in Diamond Street, Leigh, on August 25 last year and died in hospital from his injuries just over one month later on September 27.

David Dempsey, aged 42, of Kermishaw Nook, Astley, is accused of murdering Mr Butterworth – a charge he denies.

As the murder trial got under way at Liverpool Crown Court this week, the jury heard on Tuesday how 62-year-old Mr Butterworth had become ‘a little down’ after his wife died in June 2013 and his stepson suspected he had started to smoke cannabis and buy stolen goods.

Nigel Power, prosecuting, said: “The prosecution say that there is compelling evidence to prove that the stabbing was carried out by the defendant, David Dempsey, and that he is guilty of murder.

“He was a drug addict who needed money for drugs and indeed the prosecution says bought drugs with the proceeds of the robbery, during which he stabbed Mr Butterworth.

“He was known as a prolific meat thief and had sold meat to Mr Butterworth on previous occasions.”

Mr Power said that on the day he was stabbed, Mr Butterworth told both a friend and his niece that he was worried about a man who had sold him a gold watch earlier that day.

“The defendant says that it wasn’t him who stabbed Mr Butterworth,” said Mr Power.

“He accepts that he was probably not far away from the area of Mr Butterworth’s home when the stabbing took place but says that he was not responsible for the stabbing.”

But he said the prosecution will use CCTV footage, information from an electronic tag Dempsey had been ordered to wear after an earlier offence and mobile phone information to show that the defendant was in the area at the time.

On the day of the attack, Mr Butterworth called his niece at 5.32pm, shortly after he had left her house, to tell her he had been stabbed.

She rushed over to find him bleeding and the ambulance service and police arrived shortly afterwards.

He told paramedics, who found him to have stab wounds on his chest and back, that someone had pushed their way into the house and stabbed him after stealing his wallet – which contained £400 in cash, his cards and driving licence – but that he didn’t want to make a statement.

Mr Power said: “His niece went with her uncle to the hospital and there they spoke to him about what had happened.

“He still seemed scared and when asked who had stabbed him, said: ‘Yes, it’s that man who came round about the watch earlier today’.”

The trial continues.