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Prankster, 24, was stabbed to death on Valentine's Day after sending joke text to close friend, 28

A prankster was stabbed to death near Reading on Valentine's Day after a joke text made his close friend so enraged that he ambushed him on the street, a court has heard.

Yannick Cupido, 24, was fatally stabbed in the chest outside an off-licence in the early hours of February 14 after a joke he was playing took a tragic turn.

He fled to an alleyway, but was seen to stumble to the floor before succumbing to his injuries just yards from his mother's front door.

O'Neal Joseph, 28, is standing trial at Reading Crown Court charged with his murder.

On Tuesday, the jury was shown CCTV footage of the moment the Mr Cupido was allegedly ambushed by Joseph after he became angered by spoof messages.

Yannick Cupido , 24, was stabbed outside an off-licence just yards from his mother's front door, the court heard

Police at the scene of the stabbing in Managua Close, Caversham, following the incident

The court heard that, on the evening of February 13, Mr Cupido and his friend, Reece Weatherburn, had begun sending bogus messages to the latter's former partner, Mollie Brookes, claiming Weatherburn had been arrested in connection with a stabbing.

Matthew Walsh, opening the prosecution's case, said that O'Neal, also a close friend of Weatherburn, got wind of the messages and took them at face value before becoming concerned and angry.

He told the court: 'Joseph became increasingly angry during the evening, particularly when he couldn’t get hold of either Weatherburn or Mr Cupido.

'Learning of the fact that this was a prank appears to have been the catalyst for an argument and the exchange of angry messages between him and Mr Cupido when he eventually made contact with him on the phone.

'Mr Cupido made no apology for sending the spoof messages and Joseph’s temperature seemed to go up and up.'

The jury heard that Mr Cupido and Weatherburn had been together at the latter's flat in Battle Square, Reading, as the prank began.

In one angry response, Joseph told the Mr Cupido: 'On my kid’s life, if something happens to r1 [a nickname for Weatherburn] and you just hung up on me and didn’t tell me where he is, I’m going to f*****g kill you yk [a nickname for Mr Cupido].'

The murder happened just hours after police had issued a Section 60 order, giving officers additional powers to stop and search people suspected of carrying weapons

Forensic officers searching for evidence in Managua Close, where the stabbing took place

At around 11.30pm, shortly after the messages were sent, Mr Cupido left Weatherburn's flat.

The court heard an argument is alleged to have taken place between the pair, leading to Mr Cupido beginning a three-mile walk to his mother's house in Lower Caversham.

Jurors were told how Joseph is alleged to have left his house to start stalking the estate hunting for the returning Mr Cupido.

Mr Walsh said: 'The prosecution case is that Joseph knew that Mr Cupido was heading to his mother’s address on Nire Road, Lower Caversham.

'He had been told that by either Weatherburn or Mr Cupido himself. He left the house in order to seek him out. He wanted to confront him in his angry state.'

They eventually crossed paths at 12.30am, half an hour into Valentine's Day, when Joseph found Mr Cupido outside a Best-One shop just yards away from his mother's property.

The CCTV footage showed the pair squaring up to each other and appearing to arue as they circled one another.

It is alleged that Mr Cupido headbutted Joseph during the altercation.

The jury was then shown the moment Joseph stabbed Mr Cupido before the younger man flees via a nearby alleyway.

Joseph has admitted stabbing Mr Cupido, but claims it was in self-defence,

The defendant, dressed in a blue suit, listened intently to the trial's opening from the court dock after it was delayed for nearly two weeks due to illness.

The 24-year-old victim was stabbed in the street in Managua Close at around 1am on Valentine's Day

Mr Walsh continued: 'They are together for about two-and-a-half minutes. They are both clearly animated and there is movement.

'It appears that at the end of the incident, having been stabbed, Mr Cupido drops an item into the gutter.

'By 12.33am, now having been stabbed in the chest, Mr Cupido can be seen to move off to Managua Close.

'He can be seen to fall to the ground. Whilst paramedics who arrived relatively soon thereafter did all they could, Mr Cupido was on a rapid decline to death from this moment.'

Mr Cupido's mother had to be escorted out of the courtroom after becoming emotional as the jury were shown footage of her son falling to the ground having been stabbed.

The CCTV showed Mr Cupido attempted to get up, before taking a couple of steps and falling again.

Following the incident, Joseph sent a text to his former partner.

It said: 'As soon as he said "what" to me, I’ve grabbed a shank in my hand, and as soon as he said "what yea", he’s gone what, boom, I’ve pulled the shank out BLOAH straight into his chest.'

Weatherburn and Joseph, former friends, were sat socially-distanced in the dock but did not acknowledge each other throughout proceedings.

Joseph, of Amersham Road, Caversham, denies murder. He earlier admitted possession of a bladed article in a public place.

Weatherburn, of Nire Road, Caversham, denies two counts of assisting an offender by impeding the prosecution.

The trial continues.