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Jury asked not to give 'benefit of the doubt' to Langham man on trial at Leicester Crown Court for attempted murder of Oakham woman

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A jury has been asked not to give 'unwarranted benefit of the doubt' to a man with learning difficulties who stabbed his 'friend' 10 times.

Following an incident in Bullfinch Close, Oakham on January 21 last year, Robert Truscott of Lowther Close, Langham was charged with attempted murder, grievous bodily harm and possession of a knife.

A trial began on Tuesday last week (January 4) at Leicester Crown Court after Truscott pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and two counts of wounding with intent. He has admitted having an offensive weapon and unlawful wounding.

Leicester Crown Court. Photo: Google (42439205)
Leicester Crown Court. Photo: Google (42439205)

It was also alleged that he caused injury to a 26-year-old man, who Miss Wolfenden had met for the first time that night after connecting on dating website Tinder.

Today (Tuesday, January 11) the prosecution and defence both gave their closing statements on the case.

Throughout the trial, Truscott has said he can't remember stabbing Miss Wolfenden and answered 'I don't know' to many of the questions put to him about the night.

Emma Wolfenden. Photo: Alan Walters (54127634)
Emma Wolfenden. Photo: Alan Walters (54127634)

Prosecuting Andrew Peet said: "His evidence was that he couldn't remember what had happened. We will have to resolve whether or not that's true, we will have to resolve if this defendant only remembers everything up to the moment he stabbed her or whether the truth is that he can't bring himself to tell you about it because he knows telling you would mean admitting it."

He reminded the jury how in cross examination yesterday (January 10), Truscott said he knew that one stab attempt towards someone's heart would cause serious harm.

"He was going nuts, he completely lost the plot hadn't he? He was in a rage bursting into the house," said Mr Peet, describing Truscott as infatuated with Miss Wolfenden.

He went on to urge the jury not to give the defendant an 'unwarranted benefit of the doubt' because Truscott has learning difficulties, which means he struggles to read and write.

Throughout the trial, the jury has had access to WhatsApp messages between the pair, most of which are from Truscott with some sent by Miss Wolfenden asking him to do her shopping.

Mr Peet said: "The pattern suggests he was dependent on her, he's immature as far as relationships go, he's desperate. Just as she was dependent on him for alcohol he was dependent on her to give him what he thought was a meaningful relationship with a lady.

"It builds a picture that he was the one doing all the chasing, when she didn't want alcohol she could take it or leave it. It must have been frustrating for him."

Mr Peet added: "She was in no fit state to defend herself from anyone, let alone a big guy like him wielding a knife that's almost a foot long, with no-one to help her because obviously he waited until [the other man] left to start attacking Emma."

Truscott's barrister, Jonathan Dunne, acknowledged how 'awful' the incident was on January 21 last year, adding that he's not making apologies for Truscott but providing a defence, which everyone in the country is legally entitled to.

He noted Truscott's learning difficulties and how he would do anything Miss Wolfenden would ask for.

Mr Dunne said: "When she came out of hospital or the facility, for want of a better word, she falls off the wagon and she's back to relying on him for getting her drink.

"If one of [the photos she sent him on WhatsApp] is anything to go by she was relying on him to get her groceries, and all of the things he does."

He added that throughout the trial, particularly when Truscott was in the witness stand, the jury has been able to see how he was able to function and noted that this meant Truscott also answered questions differently depending on who asked them.

After the closing statements were given, His Honour Judge Head then began to sum up for the jury the findings of the trial.

He said that in October 2020, Miss Wolfenden wrote a letter to the defendant, who she had known for four years, in an attempt to end their friendship, which was based on alcohol provision, after coming out of rehabilitation.

However, Miss Wolfenden and Truscott remained in contact.

A statement made in April last year was read out by Mr Peet from Miss Wolfenden's sister, Laura, who had previously been in a relationship with Truscott and has known him for more than 20 years.

It read: "Rob would message me and ask for [Emma's] address so he could send her things. I told him I wasn't going to give it to him."

She added: "Rob told me that he said they could try being in a relationship but Emma said no.

"Rob is obsessed with Emma. He would phone me asking where she was if she didn't answer the phone.

"He always wanted to be in control and when he wasn't, he would lose his temper."

A statement from Miss Wolfenden read out in court heard that she had been friends with Truscott for four years, after meeting through her sister. Laura and Truscott broke up two years later but Miss Wolfenden maintained a friendship with him.

"It was rare he stayed the night. We were never in a relationship, we were never boyfriend and girlfriend. We were just friends but I did have sex with him on a couple of occasions," she said.

Leading up to the incident, Truscott began sending more frequent messages and calling her number, which Miss Wolfenden began to ignore, until she told the defendant on January 21 that she was meeting someone else.

He replied that he was 'not interested' before inundating her with messaged and calls including on one occasion telling her to listen to the song True Colours by Cyndi Lauper, which Mr Peet described as a love song, reading the lyrics out in court. Truscott denied it having meaning behind it saying 'it was just a song' and he 'didn't take much notice of it'.

He called her 21 times in the hours leading up to the incident and made a further five attempts in a space of two minutes shortly before. The pair also had a 12 minute phone call which was answered by Miss Wolfenden, however, Truscott cannot remember what was said.

The defendant admitted he was 'tipsy' on the night of the incident, but denied having had 'half a bottle of whisky' as he had told Miss Wolfenden in a message.

In a defence statement signed by Truscott, the jury was also told that Miss Wolfenden had previously never told him she wanted to date other men. However, on January 19 while at her house Truscott asked Miss Wolfenden what she was doing on her phone, to which she replied she was on a dating app.

Later on in the evening of January 21 Miss Wolfenden's Tinder date spoke on her to Truscott phone after being told by the victim that he was her 'stalker'. The man told Truscott 'she's not interested' but Truscott didn't respond.

Truscott then cycled from his home in Langham to Bullfinch Close in Oakham carrying the knife with him in his coat pocket.

He was questioned by Mr Peet on what his intentions were by going to her house, to which he said he didn't know, and asked why he didn't knock before entering when he knew the woman had a man round. Truscott acknowledged that he should have.

He told the court he took the knife with him out of 'stupidity just to scare them'.

It was heard that when he got there, Truscott held the knife to the man's neck and when he tried to grab the knife, the man's hand was injured.

A fight took place between Truscott and the other man, who eventually hit Truscott over the head with a bottle of rum, while Miss Wolfenden called 999.

After the fighting stopped, Truscott gave the man a towel to stop his hand bleeding.

He then went back to the kitchen and holding Miss Wolfenden with a sharp weapon against her neck, the court was told.

Believing that he was causing the aggravation, the man snorted a line of cocaine, before leaving Miss Wolfenden, who had also been drinking, and Truscott in the house alone.

The witness said: "Every time I moved to get close, he seemed to be more aggressive and I thought I was just making it worse trying to intervene.

"I thought at that point he was going to kill her if I didn't back off."

Truscott's defence lawyer suggested that the man started the fight, not Truscott.

"You struck Mr Truscott and unfortunately your hand got injured in doing so," said the lawyer.

Truscott used a kitchen knife to stab Miss Wolfenden, before calling the emergency services admitting he had 'done it'.

In a witness report read out to the jury, a neighbour who was passing by described seeing the man leave the house 'like he was being chased out the address'. The man asked the neighbour to call the police. However, after the neighbour briefly spoke to the man he felt he wasn't being chased but didn't want to engage in conversation with him.

The neighbour then heard a 'single scream', which the court was told was the moment he attacked Miss Wolfenden.

In written evidence Miss Wolfenden, who was 36 at the time, described the attack.

"I can't remember what he was saying but he was moving the knife at me," she said.

"I wish I had run but I didn't because I had known him for so long and I didn't think he was going to stab me."

Miss Wolfenden was taken to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre for treatment, where doctors discovered 10 stab wounds including in her neck and abdomen.

The 999 call that Miss Wolfenden made to emergency services was played to the court.

In the background, her Tinder date could be heard encouraging her to give false information, which Truscott's defence questioned.

The man replied that he was giving false information because he had travelled from Derbyshire when Covid-19 regulations would have prevented him from doing so at the time, and that he was a drug addict who did not want to come into contact with the police.

Miss Wolfenden was left in hospital for three months as a result of her injuries. She died in June due to unrelated circumstances, aged 37.

It was also noted that the defence had challenges to Emma's witness statement, however, due to her no longer being alive they could not be answered.

These included the order of events, their relationship, which door the defendant used to gain access to her home, what she saw when the defendant and Tinder date were fighting and which knife she was stabbed with.

The trial continues.

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