Evidence heard at trial of Ilford man accused of murdering landlord

Hickling Road, Ilford. Picture: Ajay Nair

Hickling Road, Ilford. Picture: Ajay Nair - Credit: Archant

A man accused of murdering his boss and “good friend” told the victim’s wife he did not drink alcohol for fear of “becoming violent”, a court heard yesterday.

Giving evidence at Snaresbrook Crown Court at the trial of Marcel Crihan, 34, of Hickling Road, Ilford, was the wife of Florin Onea, 49, of the same address, who died nine days after police officers found him with a stab wound at their home on Saturday, October 17, last year.

Lavinia Onea said Mr Crihan came from Romania to work at her husband’s removals business following a recommendation from her father and had never seen Mr Crihan, who lived in an annexe building at the back of her garden with his partner, drink until the day of the incident.

“I saw him drinking only on this evening, until then I never saw him drinking,” she said, speaking through a translator.

“He said that if he drinks he becomes mad. He becomes violent and can not be responsible for his actions.”

Mrs Onea told the jurors she talked to Mr Crihan about fights he had back in Romania.

“He said he had fights back in the village and altercations when he worked as a barman,” she said.

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“They would involve bottles and knives, also planks of wood like you find in the countryside.

“Drink would make him violent, [but] he wasn’t a violent man.”

Speaking of her husband’s relationship with the defendant, she said the pair were “good friends”.

Speaking about the day Mr Onea was wounded, she said both men sat down to a meal and later went out in the garden to smoke.

She said: “From the kitchen I could hear [they were having] a pleasant time outside.

“I then heard noise from the bins being moved and Florin was asking Marcel ‘why’ – they were shouting to each other but I didn’t understand [what] exactly.

“I saw Marcel picking up the bottle, which was on the table. He broke the vodka bottle onto the table – what was left in his hand was a piece, this would have been the neck of the bottle – he was going towards Florin.”

Mrs Onea said she and Marcel’s partner tried to separate the two men before she ran out to the front of the house to get help and call her stepson, who called police.

She said she did not see the alleged stabbing.

Also giving evidence was pathologist Dr Robert Chapman, who confirmed Mr Onea’s cause of death as hypoxic ischemic brain injury caused by stabbing to the heart.

Speaking of the 7cm-deep wound, he said: “I would regard the stab wound as a clean stab wound, a wound that is produced by a rapid in and out movement with the knife.”

But added: “It is not possible to exclude impalement.

“One would not expect such a rapid injury in such a rapid way [if it was impalement], it’s more likely there would be a distortion of the wound not such a cleanly produced wound.”

Peter Doyle, defending, asked: How many cases have you accepted it [impalement] as a possibility?”

To which Dr Chapman replied: “I would always accept it as a possibility.”

Mr Crihan denies the charges. The trial continues.