Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 19:19 UK

Double death plot was 'role play'

A man accused of plotting to kill the adoptive parents of a friend he met on the internet told a court it was just "role play".

Shaun Skarnes, 19, of Sutton Way, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, is accused of conspiring via internet messages to kill a couple at their Lancashire home.

Christopher Monks, 24, of Chorley, allegedly wanted his parents dead because they were over-protective.

Both men deny conspiracy to commit murder at Preston Crown Court.

The defendants agreed for Shaun Skarnes to go to the home of Christopher and Elizabeth Monks in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley on 7 February while they were out shopping.

The court heard the defendants had never met previously.

Meticulously planned

Mr Skarnes said they were merely trying to "outdo each other" in their online conversations and agreed that parts of their discussion were "twaddle" and "rubbish".

He crept into the bedroom of Mr Monks Sr holding a kitchen knife.

The pair grappled across the landing into a spare room before Mrs Monks persuaded him to come downstairs.

Mr Skarnes told the court Mr Monks Jr passed him the knife when his parents fell asleep.

Giving evidence he claimed he was "shocked" to receive the knife but thought Mr Monks Jr was "pushing the role play along to see my reaction".

During police questioning, Mr Skarnes said he accidentally dropped the knife but was seen picking it up by Mr Monks Sr.

He denied lunging at his co-defendant's father, who suffered minor injuries in the scuffle.

John Bromley-Davenport QC, defending Mr Monks, said to Mr Skarnes: "Would it be fair to say that all this leading up to the final events were, as far you were concerned, role play?"

Mr Skarnes replied yes.

The prosecution claim the pair meticulously planned to carry out the killings.

The trial continues.

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