Two men deny murder after fatal stabbing of Irishman Edward Stokes who intervened in London pub brawl
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Two men deny murder after fatal stabbing of Irishman Edward Stokes who intervened in London pub brawl

AN IRISH father-of-one was stabbed to death after he intervened in a ‘nasty, drunken fight’ at a London pub, a court heard yesterday.

Two men have been charged with the murder of Edward Stokes, 29, from Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, last St Patrick's weekend.

George Forde, 22, of Barclay Road, Plaistow, and Reece Hussain, 21, of no fixed address, both deny murder.

Hussain also denies three counts of wounding with intent.

The court heard how Mr Stokes went to speak to his alleged killers after a brawl broke out and was seen on CCTV shaking the hand of one of them.

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The prosecution allege Mr Stokes was knifed twice in the chest and stomach by Reece Hussain.

It is alleged Hussain then stabbed Mr Stokes’ friend Bernard McDonough and relatives Stephen and Dylan McDonough before fleeing the scene with friend George Forde.

The court heard Mr Stokes, a member of the Travelling community, was not involved when the brawl first broke out of the Army & Navy Pub in Plaistow, east London, in the early hours of March 19.

Prosecutor Timothy Cray said: "‘The fight started because a man called Bernard McDonough saw another man Billy Williams who he had previously had trouble with and he felt this was the time to sort it out."

"Mr McDonough walked into the saloon bar and threw a punch at Billy Williams and that started off a larger fight which spread outside into the smoking area."

"More punches were thrown, there was a lot of pushing and shoving and one of the men took off his belt and was using it as a whip."

Mr Cray added:"It was a nasty drunken pub fight – however up to then nobody was seriously hurt and had it ended there it would hardly even have been worth a 999 call."

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Hussain and Forde, who were friends of Billy Williams, then ‘took the violence up to a different level’ and armed themselves with a kitchen knife and a bottle, jurors heard.

The pair confronted Bernard McDonough and his friends but after a short standoff it appeared that the brawl had ended, it is claimed.

Mr Stokes, who had been drinking in a different part of the pub up to that point, then walked up to speak to Hussain and Forde, the court heard.

Mr Cray said: "It seemed friendly enough and everybody seems to walk away and he appears to shake hands with George Forde."

"However the trouble flared up again, words were exchanged, insults were thrown and there was another standoff between Edward Stokes and these defendants."

The landlady, unaware that someone had been stabbed, threw Hussain out of the pub and there was another short fight between him and the three McDonoughs, jurors were told.

Bernard McDonough spent two days in hospital but recovered while his two relatives suffered cuts to their arms.

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Mr Cray said the whole incident lasted less than four minutes.

"Hussain used a knife repeatedly in what was a fist fight. There was just no reason to take it up to that level," the prosecutor alleged. "He stabbed one man for no good reason after the main fight had died down. That was all unnecessary, excessive violence."

The trial continues.