A NEWPORT crack cocaine dealer who allegedly tortured and murdered a father over an unpaid debt told a jury he funded his habit on state benefits.

John Junior Phillips, accused of killing Anthony Winter, told the jury at his trial he used his £1,200 monthly Personal Independence Payment to buy drugs.

The 28-year-old, formerly of Baird Close, Malpas, also told how the father-of-one was "fine" when he left his home.

Phillips, a 17-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, both of Cardiff and who cannot be named for legal reasons, deny murdering Mr Winter.

They are accused of savagely beating the 32-year-old drug addict at a Munnings Drive flat belonging to Phillips’ then girlfriend Lauren Hutchinson in the St Julians area of Newport.

Prosecutor Christopher Clee QC has claimed Mr Winter was then taken to the Cardiff suburb of St Mellons where he was stabbed to death.

The 19-year-old Hutchinson, and the girl, have pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

A fifth defendant, 19-year-old James Jones, known as ‘Flames’, of Bedwas Close, St Mellons, has admitted murder.

During his cross examination by Mr Clee at Cardiff Crown Court, Phillips admitted dealing drugs in Newport.

The prosecutor asked how much crack cocaine Phillips was taking at the time Mr Winter died last November.

The defendant, who was wearing a dark suit, white shirt and black tie, said that he sometimes got through 20 “stones” a day, for £15 a stone.

Mr Clee told him: “It’s a big habit, isn’t it?”

The defendant replied: “Not really, I’m on 1,200 quid a month.”

Mr Clee asked: “You’re saying you’re able to fund that habit on state benefit?

Phillips responded: “With my sick money. My PIP (Personal Independence Payment) money.

Mr Clee inquired: “You were dealing crack cocaine?”

The defendant answered: “To my mates in Newport, yeah.”

Phillips admitted he had punched Mr Winter “three or four times” at the flat he shared with Hutchinson in Munnings Drive but denies killing him.

The defendant said his alleged victim was “fine” when he left there.

Phillips said he had fallen out with Mr Winter after they left his home in Chapel Wood in the Llanedeyrn area of Cardiff where they were smoking crack and drinking and arrived at Munnings Drive where they had initially been "chilling", listening to music and using a PlayStation.

He told the jury: “He (Mr Winter) was being disrespectful. He was coming towards me. I wanted to put him down. I punched him three or four times.”

Mr Clee asked Phillips: “What state was Anthony Winter in when he left that flat?”

The defendant replied: “He was fine. You can ask the taxi driver.”

Mr Clee said: “The truth is the three of you gave him a hiding because he owed you money for drugs. That’s the truth of this case, isn’t it?”

Phillips said: “No.”

Mr Winter was found lying in a pool of blood near Brookfield Drive in St Mellons just before 7.15am on Thursday, November 22, 2018.