A man brutally stabbed a fellow gym user to death and then fled the country, a court heard.
Charles Riddington, 37, from Orpington, south London, denies murdering George Barker at the Double K Gym in Bexley.
Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told the Old Bailey Mr Riddington was waiting with other men and armed with a knife at the gym on 14 November 2016.
He said Mr Riddington then launched “a merciless attack” on the 24-year-old from South Darenth, in Kent.
Mr Rees said the prosecution’s case was that Mr Riddington went to the gym armed with a lock knife looking for Mr Barker.
“It seems the defendant thought Mr Barker owed him some money,” he said.
“Shortly after Mr Barker did arrive expecting to train, the defendant launched a merciless attack on him and fatally stabbed him with a knife before making off with the other men.”
Mr Rees said Mr Riddington believed he may have been “conned” by Mr Barker, who he knew because they both used the gym.
Jurors heard Mr Barker suffered 17 wounds to the head, body and arms, including three fatal injuries to his left side, lung and spleen.
It is believed Mr Riddington will claim he acted in self-defence and Mr Barker pulled the knife on him, the jury heard.
The court was told Mr Riddington used a false passport to fly to Germany and was eventually extradited from northern Cyprus in November 2018 and charged.
“You will, no doubt, want to consider why the defendant chose to flee the jurisdiction if he felt that he had been justified in defending himself during an attack witnessed by other people who would have been able to support his account,” Mr Rees told the jury.
Mr Riddington also denies possessing an offensive weapon, namely a knife, at Littleworth Nurseries in Bexley, on the same day.
The trial continues.