February 4, 2022 1.09 pm

Boston murder accused had ‘aggressive row’ with boyfriend before she picked up knife

She says the victim pulled the knife towards himself

A Boston woman who denies murder told a jury she had picked up a knife to scare her partner on a previous occasion.

Charlie Stevenson, 21, denies murdering Christopher Higgs, also 21, at her home in Portland Street, Boston.

The prosecution allege Mr Higgs died from a single stab wound to the heart which was deliberately inflicted by Ms Stevenson on July 14 last year.

But giving evidence at Lincoln Crown Court, Ms Stevenson said she picked up a knife only to scare Mr Higgs as he strangled her.

In the struggle that followed Mr Higgs pulled the knife towards himself, Ms Stevenson told the jury.

Ms Stevenson admitted she had also picked up a knife to scare Mr Higgs during a previous physical row in 2020.

On that occasion Mr Higgs immediately stopped, and Ms Stevenson said she expected him to do the same on July 14.

The defence argue there was a history of Ms Stevenson being assaulted by Mr Higgs – but the prosecution have also outlined a number of violent incidents involving Ms Stevenson.

CCTV from a bed & breakfast where Ms Stevenson and Mr Higgs were staying during a temporary placement in May 2019 was shown to the jury.

During the footage Mr Higgs could be seen putting a hand around Ms Stevenson’s neck and snatching a phone from another resident who was ringing the police.

Ms Stevenson said the incident began when Mr Higgs dragged her out of bed by her hair and then put a pillow over her face.

Police arrived and Mr Higgs was temporarily stopped from seeing Ms Stevenson.

A further incident was reported in Guildford during September 2019 when Ms Stevenson was heard shouting “get off me, stop strangling me”.

Ms Stevenson said another incident occurred in Nottingham when Mr Higgs put his knee on her cheekbone – bruising her face.

A further attack took place during a car journey when Mr Higgs pushed Ms Stevenson’s head down and then began punching her dog, the jury were told.

Ms Stevenson said the couple moved to a foster placement in Yorkshire after their son’s birth and things improved with Mr Higgs no longer using cannabis.

“We were just a happy family,” Ms Stevenson said. “Our social workers were really proud of us.”

The jury heard Ms Stevenson moved to Portland Street in October 2020, with both Mr Higgs and their son.

Ms Stevenson, who admitted smoking cannabis herself, said the first few weeks were ok, but Mr Higgs got back into “smoking weed”.

She admitted shouting at Mr Higgs after her phone was damaged, telling the jury: “Christopher started his usual kicking and punching.”

On another occasion in 2020, Ms Stevenson admitted she picked up a knife during an argument in the kitchen after Mr Higgs put his hands over her mouth.

“It started getting physical, Chris punching me to the head.

“At first I took it, I was scared social services would see the marks.

“Then after that I’ve picked up a knife from the kitchen side.”

Asked by defence barrister James Newton-Price QC why she picked it up, Ms Stevenson replied: “To scare Christopher away.”

“He was shocked and stopped straight away,” Ms Stevenson added.

Asked why she again picked up a knife a year later in the incident that led to Christopher’s death, Ms Stevenson replied: “To scare him.”

Ms Stevenson said she did not tell social services about any of the incidents because she did not want to lose her son.

The family briefly returned to Guildford in March 2021, and began living with Mr Higgs’ mother, but they were asked to leave after another incident where Christopher became physical, Ms Stevenson told the jury.

Ms Stevenson denied picking up a glass bowl during the row.

Police were called to a further incident in Surrey after Ms Stevenson said she was knocked to the floor and hit her head after telling Mr Higgs that she did not love him anymore.

Mr Higgs was charged and given bail conditions not to contact Ms Stevenson.

Miss Stevenson said she began seeing someone else but then moved back to Lincolnshire and resumed her relationship with Mr Higgs, without telling the authorities.

On May 30, Miss Stevenson said police were called to Portland Street after Mr Higgs smashed her phone, damaged a door, the fridge and a canvas.

Mr Higgs was granted bail on condition that he lived with his brother in Spalding, but after period of exchanging messages and meeting up, Miss Stevenson said she let him stay at Portland Street from 10 July.

“I agreed he could come and stay until he got accomodation sorted out with the council,” Miss Stevenson said.

“It was fine for the first day or two, but there was an argument the night before when Christopher was smoking weed really late and playing the music loud.”

Ms Stevenson said Mr Higgs put his hand over her mouth and punched her when she asked him to turn the music down.

“I was screaming. I just curled up in a ball until he stopped.”

Ms Stevenson, of Portland Street, Boston, denies murder on July 14 last year.

The trial continues on Monday.