A roofer from Leeds who is currently on trial for the murder of a transsexual prostitute claims he was attempting to save her from another attacker, jurors at the Old Bailey heard.

James Hopkins, 42, said that the person who had murdered Robyn Browne was in fact a Jamaican man who went by the name of “Appee.”

Ms Browne, 23, was found dead at the flat where she worked in Gosfield Street, Central London in February 1997. She had been stabbed nine times in the chest and neck.

Hopkins claimed that he and Appee had gone to Miss Browne’s flat in order to retrieve her address book.

He told the court that the plan had been hatched over drinks with Appee in London, claiming: “He said there was a girl that lived nearby that had some phone numbers that he needed, a book that she wouldn’t return.”

He told the court that when he saw Appee fighting with Ms Browne he tried to pull the two apart.

“I could see there was a lot of blood coming from around Browne’s abdomen, chest area,” he said. 

“Appee made for Browne again. I grabbed him and this time Appee turned round and head butted me.

“I staggered back and Appee returned and stabbed Browne up near the neck. I was in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe what happened.”

Hopkins claimed that he had made an appointment with Ms Browne at 7pm on the night of February 28th, believing her to be a female prostitute.

He said: “When the door opened it was a black man in a dress, a bathrobe. I asked to use the bathroom and I heard Browne moving into the bedroom.” He went on to say that he pressed a buzzer which gave Appee entry into the flat.

It was not until a bloody palm print that left at the scene was identified from the police computer database in 2007 that Hopkins was linked to the murder.

The trial continues.