A nightclub tycoon was stabbed to death by his son, who then bragged that he “had the guts to stand up to him”, a court has heard.
David West, 70, was described in court as a “drunken bully” who made millions from the booze-cruise trade in Calais before moving on to own a string of venues in the West End of London.
He had a turbulent relationship with his son of the same name, who worked for him on and off as his entertainment business empire began to crumble, the Old Bailey heard.
He sacked his son during a blazing row on 12 December last year. But David West Jnr, 45, resolved to “go out with a bang”, jurors were told.
Mr West Snr’s personal assistant used a mobile phone app to record a snippet of the argument between father and son in the bar of the Abracadabra restaurant prior to the stabbing. The jury was played an extract in which Mr West Jnr swore at his father and said: “I hope you drink yourself to death.” Mr West Snr swore back at him.
The son allegedly went on to down several glasses of whisky, take a large knife from his flat in Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, and later stab his father twice as he lay comatose in his home next door. Mr West Jnr admits to the killing but denies the charge of murder on the grounds that he had “lost control” because of his father’s behaviour.
Immediately after the stabbing, however, Mr West Jnr called 999 and told police: “I would like to admit to a murder. I’ve just killed my father.” Soon afterwards he told police that he “did a favour to a lot of people” and boasted “I had the guts to stand up to him”.
He told an officer: “I’ve had a lot of pleasure in what I have done. I’m glad he’s dead. The thing is I should have kicked the shit out of him before I killed him.”
But Aftab Jafferjee QC, for the prosecution, said: “The problem was that he never could stand up to him and to kill his father while his father was slumped at the bottom of the stairs in a drunken stupor, and thus totally defenceless, does not readily resonate with ‘having the guts to stand up to him’.
“He took the largest kitchen knife from his flat – provided by his father – and went next door to where his father had been taken by his assistant, and left at the bottom of the stairs as he was too drunken to climb them.
“He then stabbed his father just twice, on each occasion targeting two of the body’s most vulnerable areas – first, the neck, and then the upper chest, leaving the knife embedded there.”
Before the killing, the defendant had exchanged texts with his girlfriend telling her that “a lot of people need sorting out and it’s going to be tonight,” adding that he was “going out with a bang”.
Mr Jafferjee told jurors: “The problem appears to be that David West Snr, rightly or wrongly, saw his son as someone who was no longer able to match up to the demands of the state of the business.
“The defendant, who was in awe of his father, felt that his efforts were rarely if ever appreciated by his father.”
David West Jnr held a “pivotal role” in the Calais business before it folded in 2011 and later moved to the West End to be near his father, whose health was deteriorating.
Mr Jafferjee told jurors that the victim was a controlling man who saw dependence as “weakness” and went by the code “my money, my rules”.
At the time of his death, his business was in serious financial trouble with “large debts” which explained his excessive drinking, the lawyer said.
The case continues.
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