Road rage killer stabbed driver to death in front of son, 4, in ‘brutal’ attack

A road rage killer murdered a driver in a frenzied knife attack carried out in front of his victim’s four year old son, a court heard today.

Alexander Layton, 33, was captured on film as he plunged the weapon four times into James Stokoe as his son sat in a car seat in the back of his BMW.

Teesside crown court heard that the knife severed the femoral artery in Mr Stokoe’s thigh causing catastrophic blood loss.

He was declared dead by a doctor in an ambulance 20 minutes after the attack in Thornaby, Teesside, carried out in broad daylight shortly after 2pm on May 15 last year.

Passing driver dashcam footage and CCTV showed Layton raising the knife and plunging it into Mr Stokoe’s body four times, the court heard.

The jury was also shown mobile footage in which Layton placed the knife back into his rucksack and ‘calmly’ walked off with bags of shopping immediately after the attack.

There were several witnesses who rushed to the scene, including a nurse who tried to save Mr Stokoe, and a nearby resident who took his son into her home. Emergency services were called by a 16-year-old passing the scene in a car with his parents, the court heard.

Peter Makepeace QC, prosecuting, told the jury that there was evidence of text messages sent by Layton minutes after the murder which gave no hint that he had just been involved in the attack.

He was arrested the day after the incident, and told police that he should not be treated any differently ‘because he had murdered someone’.

In a statement prepared with his solicitor, he also claimed that he had been acting in self defence.

But Mr Makepeace told the jury that the video footage clearly showed that Layton acted in ‘anger, albeit in a calm, considered, but brutal manner’.

The jury was shown dashcam footage taken from a passing car in which Layton could be seen raising the knife and bringing it down into the vehicle four times.

“You can see Mr Layton put his bag down, get the knife out and go back to the BMW and you can see him start the stabbing by taking the knife back,” added Mr Makepeace QC.

“You can see him, having armed himself with that knife, then blow, blow, blow, blow – we have zoomed in so you can see the knife.

“On footage taken on a mobile phone you can see Mr Stokoe in the vehicle with the door closed, and then a little distance away, a few yards down the road, you see Mr Layton putting the knife in the bag and off he goes.”

The jury heard that Mr Stokoe had earlier pulled his car over by a grassed central reservation after he got into a row with Layton.

Witnesses heard Mr Stokoe shout: “Are you f***ing daft? I nearly knocked you over, I have a kid in the car with me.”

Layton could be heard to respond: “Are you talking to me? F*** off, I am here, come over here, come on then.”

Mr Stokoe then pulled the BMW away from the grass verge and stopped on the other side of the road.

Layton is seen on the dashcam footage walking towards him wearing a backpack.

The court heard he had two bags of groceries which he had just collected from a food bank in Stockton on Tees.

Shortly after the attack, he made his way from his home to go camping in the village of Great Ayton, North Yorks, just outside Teesside.

Mr Makepeace said: “He spent a night under the stars before he was arrested the following day in a pizza shop.”

The court heard that Mr Stokoe’s son was in a booster seat in the back seat of the BMW, on the passenger side.

“As Mr Stokoe sat in his vehicle Mr Layton delivered four thrusting blows into that car,” Mr Makepeace told the jury.

“Three went into Mr Stokoe’s right thigh and one pierced his arm, no doubt as Mr Stokoe made a futile attempt to fend off that attack.

“Just how futile can be appreciated when you see the size of the knife being used to attack him. He used the open back window of the car to hold onto to add leverage.

“Having delivered those blows he put his knife back into his rucksack, calmly put away his shopping and made his way home.”

Mr Stokoe’s wife, a lab technician at Durham University, heard the sirens from their home and texted him to tell him to come home by a different route as there was some kind of incident, which happened on Trenchard Avenue.

At that point her husband was dead or dying after one of the blows to his leg, which went straight through his thigh, severed the femoral artery and caused him to bleed to death.

A nearby resident plucked their son from the car and took him into her home where she looked after him until Alex could pick him up.

On his arrest the following day Layton told police he had the knife – the largest from a block in the kitchen at his flat in Thornaby, Teesside – because he was going camping.

He claimed that he struck once or maybe twice because he was in fear that Mr Stokoe was about to get out of the car and attack him.

But Mr Makepeace told the court: “What you have seen is far, far from a man acting in self defence.”

The court heard Layton had stayed up all night discussing conspiracy theories with a former partner including messages about David Icke and 5G masts.

Two hours before the killing, he had threatened to ‘murder’ an associate, Liam Frost, by stabbing him.

Layton denies murder and the trial continues.