Wife’s tears as she recalls ‘horror film’ moment husband stabbed in front of her (2024)

The wife of a pub landlord allegedly murdered by his ex sister-in-law broke down in tears as she recalled the "horror film" moment he was fatally stabbed.

Caroline Bryant described how an "evil" Stephanie Langley had clenched the large kitchen knife and then, in a downward motion, stuck it into her 52-year-old husband Matthew's back.

Wife’s tearsas she recalls ‘horror film’moment husband stabbed in front of her (1)

Crying as she gave evidence at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday, April 11, the widow said Langley then ignored a plea not to pull the blade out of his body.

Mr Bryant fell to the ground after the third blow in what the prosecution alleges was an "irrational but deliberate" attack by Langley.

Just seconds earlier he had dialled 999 to report Langley for having repeatedly threatened to have him killed, the court was told.

The line was still open - although the phone had been knocked from his hand by the mum of two - when he was recorded by the operator saying "I've just been stabbed”.

Jurors were told the fatal wound penetrated 20cm deep into the publican's torso and was "unsurvivable" without immediate surgery. He was declared dead at the scene.

Wife’s tearsas she recalls ‘horror film’moment husband stabbed in front of her (2)

Langley denies murder and the alternative offence of manslaughter but has admitted a charge of possessing a knife.

The trial has heard that other than a previous incident at the pub in March or May last year, the fatal encounter at the Hare and Hounds on September 11 was the victim's only contact with his former sister-in-law in more than 20 years.

Within as little as five minutes of arriving at the Lower Boxley Road venue at 5.53pm, Langley was asked to leave by Mrs Bryant, and her husband phoned police.

She told the court they were due to go to Paris the next day to celebrate their anniversary, having married in 2018, but, as Langley walked to the door, she said "You're dead tonight".

CCTV captured the 54-year-old returning to her Volvo parked in the same road before driving round to Maidstone East train station.

There, she left the car unlocked and its hazard lights illuminated and walked back towards the pub.

The knife was later discovered by police to have been from a block of knives at her home in Wilsons Lane, East Farleigh.

Mr Bryant was mid-call to police outside the pub entrance when she appeared in front of him.

He offered her the phone but, having had it hit from his hand into the road, he went to retrieve it. Langley followed and, out of sight of camera, began to stab him.

Wife’s tearsas she recalls ‘horror film’moment husband stabbed in front of her (3)

Mrs Bryant told the jury she was at the bar with a regular when the attack unfolded.

"I was just chatting to Martin [Greenacre] and looking out the window and saw her....She was right in front of him and then I saw Matthew put his hand on his neck and I just ran outside," she recalled, becoming upset.

Another customer, Eddie Williams, joined her. "I think he [Eddie] has grabbed her to pull her away. Then she stuck the knife in his [Matthew] front," continued Mrs Bryant.

"Eddie still tried to pull her off, pull her away from him, but Matt was bending over and then he turned, like he was going to fall.

"He turned towards me and then she just went like that [demonstrating a downward motion] straight in his back.

"Eddie said 'Don't pull the knife out' but she pulled it out and he fell. She didn't give a s***. She just went like that and pulled it out. Matthew then fell."

Referring to Langley's demeanour and how she had gripped the knife, Mrs Bryant said: "Evil. It was like a horror film."

Asked by prosecutor Nina Ellin KC whether her husband did anything, she replied: "He couldn't."

With the knife pulled out, it was either dropped or fell to the ground. Mrs Bryant picked it up and took it into the pub.

Wife’s tearsas she recalls ‘horror film’moment husband stabbed in front of her (4)

"I put it on the bar, went outside, punched her in the face and called her an evil bitch," she told the court.

"I panicked, I was calling the police, calling the ambulance. All I could see was Eddie working on him.

"She sat on the bench [outside the pub]. She just sat there looking. I can't recall her saying anything but she didn't give a s***. She just sat there watching."

The court heard Mrs Bryant had been "forewarned" that Langley might be at the pub that evening by Shannon Cooney - the girlfriend of Langley's son, Cameron Langley-McColm.

He played for the pub pool team but did not know the family connection to Mr Bryant until she went for a drink with her son earlier that year.

Wife’s tearsas she recalls ‘horror film’moment husband stabbed in front of her (5)

On that occasion, she allegedly told Mr Langley-McColm that Mr Bryant was violent and she hated him.

The court heard she also introduced herself to Mrs Bryant before pointing at Mr Bryant and explaining she was "that c***'s" former sister-in-law. He, however, had not recognised Langley.

She then later questioned Mrs Bryant, in what was described as a "weird" encounter in the pub garden, whether her husband ever hurt her.

Mrs Bryant told the jury: "I was just having a cigarette. She kept saying to me 'You're lovely' and I was thinking 'Bit weird'.

"She said it about three times. She had that look on her face. She kept staring at me and it was really uncomfortable.

"She kept saying 'Has he hurt you' and I said 'No'. She asked me about three times. Cam said 'Mum, stop' and she said 'Don't worry Cameron, I'm not going to start.'."

Mrs Bryant did not see her again but was waiting to go out for dinner with her husband at about 6pm that same day when Mr Langley-McColm returned, telling them to "Hurry up and go" as his mum was on her way back.

The couple left, having been directed by Langley's son not to head in their usual direction.

"I have never been rushed out of my pub so quick," added Mrs Bryant.

Earlier in the trial the court heard Langley did return, drunk and angry, looking for Mr Bryant and allegedly threatening "I'm going to kill him."

Mrs Bryant said that when she saw Langley in the pub on September 11, she told her she "didn't want any trouble" and to go.

She described her as being very calm and with a "smug" look on her face.

Wife’s tearsas she recalls ‘horror film’moment husband stabbed in front of her (6)

"Matt was on the phone [to police]. She walked to the door and said 'You're dead tonight'. I didn't think she would come back and do that," added Mrs Bryant.

"I was just going to carry on the evening and play a game of pool. We were going to Paris the next day for our anniversary."

During cross-examination by Langley's barrister, John Cooper KC, the jury heard Mrs Bryant had broken her arm "years ago" in a row with her husband.

She said she was standing behind a door banging on it, swearing and calling him a "coward" when he pushed it and caused her to fall awkwardly.

Mrs Bryant also admitted he could be a bully "with his mouth" in arguments, adding she gave him "as good as he gave me" and they made each other cry.

But she vehemently denied during a tense exchange with Mr Cooper over phone messages to Miss Cooney in which she spoke of her husband having a temper and "hurting" her that he had ever been physically violent.

Refuting the idea she was "terrified" of her partner of eight years, Mrs Bryant said: "If I was terrified, I would have left him. I would not have stayed. If he hurt me I would have left."

She also denied the defence assertion that she was trying to protect him, his name and reputation, telling the court: "At the end of the day, my husband was murdered in front of me and I couldn't protect him then."

But she agreed with Mr Cooper when he said she wanted the person who "put the knife" in her husband to be found guilty of murder.

"Too right I do," she said.

The trial continues.

Courts Kent Maidstone Julia Roberts

Wife’s tears as she recalls ‘horror film’ moment husband stabbed in front of her (2024)


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