The man accused of murdering Yannick Cupido has told a court what he remembers about stabbing the 24-year-old.

O’Neal Joseph, 28, denies the charge but wiped away tears today as he recounted knifing Caversham man Cupido just after midnight on February 14.

Joseph is being tried alongside Reece Weatherburn, 22, who has been charged with assisting an offender.

At the opening of their trial, Reading Crown Court heard how Cupido had played a prank on Joseph by falsely claiming their mutual friend Weatherburn had been arrested.

This angered Joseph, who told Cupido he would ‘kill him’ in a text message.

In the early minutes of February 14, 2021, Joseph and Cupido crossed paths at the Best One shop in Caversham where they threw punches at each other.

After Cupido headbutted Joseph, the latter pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed him in the chest.

Retelling his version of events from that night, Joseph said he had been at his partner’s house baking shortbread when he was made aware of the claim from a friend of Weatherburn’s that he had been arrested.

He told the court he did not know Weatherburn was with Cupido that evening when the latter was spreading false claims the former had been arrested.

Joseph said: “I was worried and concerned about where this had come from.

“I was told Reece had been arrested. I was worried because he’s my friend. I was concerned for him.

“I started panicking and worrying. I thought he was in trouble and maybe he was hurt.”

Joseph got in touch with Cupido who told him that he had been with Weatherburn and that he was in trouble.

The murder-accused, of Amersham Road, Caversham, told the court he knew Cupido did not ‘rate’ him and agreed the pair had a problem with each other.

David Hislop, Joseph’s defence counsel, asked the defendant why he sent Cupido a text saying he would kill him.

Joseph replied: “I panicked. I wasn’t intending to carry out that threat.”

Their argument snowballed after Joseph discovered Weatherburn was okay and had not been arrested.

Joseph said the pair arranged to meet outside Best One shop in Caversham later that evening.

Asked what he expected to happen at this meeting, Joseph said he anticipated an ‘argument.’

Joseph left his partner’s house with a knife after texting Weatherburn to say ‘apparently YK [Yannick Cupido] is come to smoke me’, which the defendant explained meant ‘to kill’.

Mr Hislop asked Joseph why he took the knife with him.

The 28-year-old said: “I panicked and I was scared at the time.” Joseph said he was aware of Cupido’s reputation of having been involved with gangs before he came to the UK.

He added: “My first thought was not to use it but to protect myself.”

Describing their meeting outside Best One shop, Joseph said Cupido headbutted him either side of ‘pushing and shoving’ between them.

Joseph said Cupido had a bottle with him and that he made a motion with it ‘like he was going to stab’ him.

Asked what happened next, Joseph said he used the knife “as a reaction” and “stabbed” Yannick Cupido.

It was at this point in the hearing that Joseph started crying from the witness box, wiping away tears as Mr Hislop waited for him to recollect himself.

The defence counsel asked: “Did you want this to happen?”

Joseph replied: “No. I was scared, I thought he was going to kill me.”

Quizzed over whether he could run away, Joseph remarked: “I didn’t want to turn around. Then he could have stabbed me with my back to him.”

He denied he had an opportunity to aim the knife or that he had time to choose where he used the knife as everything happened ‘very quickly.’

Cupido ran off from the altercation before collapsing minutes later. He was found by a member of the public and pronounced dead at hospital after 1am.

Initially, Joseph thought he had stabbed Cupido on his jacket or in his arm, but when he returned home he saw ‘a lot of blood’ on the knife.

This made him think he had hurt Cupido ‘really badly’, the court heard.

He admitted he should have called the police instead of throwing the clothes and the knife away, but told the court he did not know what to do and that he ‘feared the worst.’

Joseph denied intending to seriously harm Cupido and confessed he had regrets and guilt about taking a knife with him to the site.

He said: “At the time I was scared. I didn’t think it would cause serious damage.

“I thought he was going to use the bottle to kill me.”

The Caversham man told the court he was ‘vomiting’ the next day as he had been made aware Cupido had died.

The trial continues.