Kim Whittlestone secures acquittal in murder trial

November 13, 2020

Kim Whittlestone from Exchange Chambers (led by Richard Pratt QC) has secured an acquittal for her client, Alfonso Bitton, in a murder trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

Blair Dixon and Alfonso Bitton, both aged 25, had each denied the alleged murder of John Cingelis, who suffered a single “unsurvivable” knife wound to the chest at his home in the city’s Harraby area on the morning of April 12 2021.

Dixon and Mr Bitton went on trial earlier this week. The prosecution told jurors Dixon “fatally stabbed” 37-year-old Mr Cingelis in his own home having armed himself with a large blade, “incensed by the misapprehension” that the householder and a friend had his Canada Goose beanie hat. This was found elsewhere days later.

The friend, Barry Cartwright, was stabbed in the arm and wounded during violence which flared hours after Dixon and Mr Bitton had socialised at Mr Cingelis’s home, before leaving on “friendly terms”.

Mr Bitton stood accused of being involved in the killing “by his presence” and was alleged to have “lent encouragement and support to Dixon”. But Mr Bitton denied being at the property that morning, telling police he was instead asleep in his nearby flat when the killing occurred.

At identification procedures several days later, Mr Cartwright identified Dixon as the man responsible for stabbing he and Mr Cingelis, and said Mr Bitton was at the house at the time. But, while giving evidence, Mr Cartwright admitted it was “possible” he identified Mr Bitton because he had seen him the night before.

As a result, no evidence was offered by the prosecution to the charges of murder, intentional wounding and illegal knife possession denied by Mr Bitton, who was acquitted.

Dixon admitted the manslaughter of Mr Cingelis and unlawfully wounding Mr Cartwright. Dixon had also previously admitted having the knife which was found by police in a storm drain. After the prosecution announced those pleas were deemed “acceptable” after careful consideration – and consultation with Mr Cingelis’s family – Judge Simon Medland QC discharged the jury.

Jailing Dixon for 12 years, Judge Medland noted grieving relatives had described Mr Cingelis as “truly someone who would do anything for anyone”.

Kim Whittlestone was instructed by David Coles from Owen Nash & Co.