A MAN accused of murder said his move to flee the UK and live as a fugitive for 20 years were "the actions of a desperate man."

Michael Donnelly, 73, is standing trial at Chelmsford Crown Court over the death of Grant Byrom.

He took to the witness box yesterday morning.

Under cross-examination from prosecutor Christopher Paxton QC, Donnelly repeatedly denied stabbing Mr Byrom outside a party at his home in Forest Road, Colchester.

Mr Paxton asked Donnelly whether his move to flee and live as a fugitive for 20 years was the action "of a guilty man."

Donnelly said: "It's the actions of a desperate man.

"Someone who was desperate not to be in jail for something he did not do."

Mr Paxton quizzed Donnelly about the differing accounts given in his police interview and to the jury yesterday morning.

He said: "It's a game to you Mr Donnelly, isn't it? The way you lie."

Donnelly said: "I gave the police the bare bones of what happened that day.

"All that stuff was in the back of my mind, my memory was very dim."

Donnelly added that later "some of his memory came back with some clarity."

When asked about his recollection of a confrontation with Mr Byrom at his party, Donnelly said was attacked by Mr Byrom and his group and helped upstairs.

Mr Paxton said: "Can you give the name of people who carried you upstairs?"

Donnelly said: "No, I'm not going to name them."

Mr Paxton said: "Well, Mr Donnelly, you can't give the names because they didn't carry you upstairs, did you?"

Donnelly said: "I'm not telling you their names."

Donnelly said his refusal to give names was due to his reluctance to "incriminate" anyone.

The trial continues.