ONE of the gang members accused of stabbing Lewis Singleton to death has previous convictions for a string of violent offences, a court heard.

Rikki Johnson, who along with three others is accused of murdering the 18-year-old on March 31 last year, spent four months in a detention centre for punching a police officer in 2006, jurors were told.

It was also revealed that the 19-year-old had two previous convictions for battery and another for intimidating a witness with intent to obstruct or interfere with justice.

During the opening day of his defence case, Johnson told Winchester Crown Court how his co-accused, Sercan Calik, had produced a knife in the hours running up to the fatal stabbing on Obelisk Road in Woolston, Southampton.

Johnson said he was "trying to protect a friend" when he twice aimed his knife at Lewis fearing that he too was going to produce a weapon.

"When I saw Lewis Singleton go to his pocket, I tried to stop him by stabbing him in his right arm. But I think it slipped off his arm and went towards his stomach," he told the jury.

"Lewis carried on fighting. I tried stabbing him in the backside to stop him. I'm not sure whether it made contact.

"After the second stabbing, I dropped the knife on the floor and backed away from the fight. I was frightened."

He told the court that he had then gone back to Sercan Calik's car while the others stayed near the scene of the fight.

Although Lewis was able to flee the scene, he later died in hospital from injuries caused by six stab wounds.

Johnson added: "I did not do all those stab wounds - no way. I never punched or kicked him."

The court heard that in the run- up to the brawl, Johnson had drunk five litre-bottles of alcopops before meeting up with his friends during the course of the night.

But he denied the alcohol affected his memory of events and said he was sorry Lewis had died.

"I feel gutted about what we done as a group," he said.

Johnson, 19, of Honeysuckle Road, Bassett, Calik, 19, of Burgess Road, Bassett and two youths aged 16 and 17 all deny murder and a second charge of violent disorder. A fifth member of the gang was never charged.