ONE of the men accused of murdering Reece James wept as he told a court the gun went off during a struggle.

Wayne Stephenson, 34, of Byron Court, East Dulwich, said he broke into the flat in Roumelia Lane, Boscombe, in the early hours of July 25 last year to burgle the premises.

However, although he believed the flat was empty, he and co-defendants Keifer Hutchinson, 22, of Manaton Close, Peckham, and Jarome Parkinson, 24, of Dover Road, Folkestone, quickly realised Mr James and his friend Tyrone Downer were inside, he told the court.

Stephenson said he fought with Mr James after realising Mr James had a gun in his hand.

He told Winchester Crown Court court: “We were just struggling over this gun and within seconds of this struggle, the gun has just gone off.”

He said he fought desperately to keep the end of the gun away from him.

“When the gun went off, my ears were ringing – I checked myself to see if I had been shot because the impact of the bang sounded so close to my face,” he said.

“I just ran. I took the gun with me. I wasn't thinking – I don't know. Tyrone Downer was in the flat so anything was possible. He could have picked the gun up.”

Later that night, Stephenson threw the sawn-off shotgun off the Surrey Quay and got rid of his phone.

He gave a no comment interview after being arrested by police less than a month later, but said he recognised he had caused “horrific devastation” to Mr James's family.

“I wanted to admit [to police] to what it was – a burglary, not an execution, not planned,” he said.

“I feel remorseful, I feel stupid, I feel pain. It’s a nightmare. It’s horrific. I wouldn't want anyone to go through anything like this.”

Stephenson, Hutchinson and Parkinson deny murder, along with Kieron Wellington, 31, of Durley Gardens, Bournemouth.

The trial continues.