A MAN accused of murder has declined to give evidence in his own defence at his trial.

Keith Harris died after he was stabbed in the chest by 36-year-old Michael Long in the Premier Store on Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe on August 15 last year.

During a week-long trial at Manchester Crown Court, a jury heard how Long had confronted strangers Mr Harris and his pal Terrence Moore in the street as they made their way to the shop.

Long, who then armed himself with a kitchen knife, is said to have fought Mr Moore and stabbed 43-year-old Mr Harris in the chest when he went to his friend's aid.

Long denies murdering Mr Harris and the attempted murder of Mr Moore although, part way through the trial he pleaded guilty to possessing a knife.

He opted not to tell the court his version of events.

Judge Patrick Field QC told the jury: "The defendant is aware that you might be entitled to think he did not have an answer to the prosecution case that could stand up in court."

But in closing speeches Bernard Richmond QC, defending, stressed that although Long admits he stabbed Mr Harris, he did not intend to kill or seriously injure him.

He added that the incident, which lasted seconds, was too short to allow Long to form such an intention.

"This was swift, this was chaotic and much of it happened in an unexpected way," he said.

He said that, although Long had a knife in his hand, he did not stab Mr Moore. Mr Richmond urged the jury to find Long guilty of manslaughter, not murder. "He is not trying to walk away from this scot free," he added.

But, in his closing speech Michael Lavery, prosecuting, asked the court to also consider Long's actions before and after the stabbing.

He stressed that, after confronting the men he had gone to a house and, in 14 seconds, was back on the street armed with the knife he used on Mr Harris. Then, after the killing, he had attempted to flee in his car.

Mr Lavery told the jury: "The defendant has chosen not to tell you anything about what happened that day. The Crown's case is that it is because he has no answer."

The jury is expected to retire to consider its verdicts on Monday.