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Duo deny murder charge following death of Carlisle man

John Cingelis

TWO men have pleaded not guilty to the alleged murder of a man on a Carlisle housing estate earlier this year.

John Cingelis, who was aged 37 and from Brantwood Avenue in the city, died following an incident on April 12 which sparked a round-the-clock investigation by police.

Officers had been called by the North West Ambulance Service to Mr Cingelis’s home, on the Harraby estate, at 10-49am following a report that two men had allegedly suffered stab wounds.

Mr Cingelis was pronounced dead, while a second male, Barry Cartwright, was taken to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, where he underwent treatment before being discharged.

At Carlisle Crown Court today (MON), Blair Dixon and Alfonso Bitton, both aged 25, each pleaded not guilty an allegation that they murdered Mr Cingelis on April 12.

Dixon, of Welsh Road, and Bitton, of Eldon Drive, both Carlisle, also denied a charge alleging the unlawful and malicious wounding of Mr Cartwright with intent to do him grievous bodily harm. Bitton further denied a third charge alleging the possession of an offensive weapon – a kitchen knife – in public at Brantwood Avenue “without lawful authority or reasonable excuse” on April 12.

Dixon was present in the court dock while his co-accused Bitton, bespectacled and wearing a light grey jumper, appeared over a video link from custody. They spoke to confirm their names and dates of birth, and to enter their pleas when the charges were read to them by a clerk.

Both men will now stand trial in front of a jury at Carlisle Crown Court. This is due to start on November 9, and at present it is estimated this will last around a fortnight.

A pre-trial review was provisionally listed to take place at the crown court in late October. In the meantime, both Dixon and Bitton were remanded in custody.

Although lawyers representing the defendants – Andrew Nuttall for Dixon and Kim Whittlestone for Bitton – were also present in the courtroom this morning, prosecutor Michael Brady QC and the judge, His Honour Denis Watson QC, appeared remotely for a hearing held through the Cloud Video Platform (CVP).

This CVP online technology has been brought forward by the Ministry of Justice and aims to keep the justice system moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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