The second man accused of murdering George Dore outside his Keighley home today told the jury he loved him and would never have harmed him.

Anthony Atha said the two were best friends for many years and that Mr Dore had been to see him three days before he died.

“George Dore was my friend. I would never have hurt him in my lifetime,” Atha stated when giving evidence at Bradford Crown Court.

Mr Dore, 49, died soon after being stabbed to the heart outside his house on Fell Lane, Keighley, at around 3.40am on April 8.

Atha, 53, of West Bank Close, Keighley, and Leslie Walker, 46, and Angela Thornton, 48, both of Nightingale Street in the town, plead not guilty to his murder.

Walker has told the jury he wielded the knife but he said he did not intend to kill Mr Dore or to cause him really serious injury.

Atha said he had always found Mr Dore amicable and honest. They would talk, laugh and drink together and they had shared interests in music and fishing. The court heard that Atha had previous convictions for assaulting the police, threatening behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm but he had never committed an offence using a weapon.

He said he was in serious pain from nerve damage to his legs and he hadn’t worked for 20 years. He also had a mental illness exacerbated by drugs. Atha stated that he thought he was taking a taxi to go home that morning but it shot past where he wanted to get out.

“I would never have gone to George’s unwelcomed and uninvited,” he said.

He told the jury he had no weapon with him and was “blitzed” after drinking 10 to 15 “strong cans” the previous day and taking drugs, including crack cocaine, cannabis and methadone.

Atha said Walker and Thornton were talking in the taxi but he did not pay attention to what they were saying.

They both got out at Mr Dore’s address but he stayed in the taxi. He heard them shouting abuse and going on about money. The driver asked him to get out of the taxi and he stayed at the scene because he was trying to get Walker and Thornton away from George’s house.

He didn’t want them making a rumpus and disturbing everyone, he said.

Mr Dore came out of the house and moved Thornton aside because she was on his doorstep. He and Walker were scuffling but Atha said he did not see a knife and did not realise that Mr Dore had been stabbed.

“No, categorically, no, I wouldn’t have walked away if I had,” he said. “George had walked back in and I thought he was all right, that’s the truth.”

Atha said he thought the three of them returned to the scene to look for some lost drugs. Thornton handed him a knife and he put it in his pocket.

He told the jury he threw it into the beck behind Morrisons after Walker said he had stabbed Mr Dore three times and then he heard sirens.

“I knew the police were going to come. I’d been brought into the equation,” he told the court.

After his arrest he went with the police to show them where he had thrown the knife.

The trial continues.