A tiny cut from the tip of a blade led to a man's death following a row between friends, a court has heard.

James O'Keefe, 47, did not seek medical help and probably "brushed off" the 1.5cm deep wound after a kitchen knife nicked his right thigh, the Old Bailey was told.

Unbeknown to him, it had sliced a varicose vein, causing "severe, prolonged and unchecked bleeding", from which he died, jurors heard.

Mr O'Keefe's friend George Nolan, 55, of Tottenham, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of manslaughter.

Prosecutor Julian Evans said the pair had got into an argument while drinking at the flat of another friend, Jan Farnham, in Crouch End, on December 9 last year.

Afterwards, Mr Farnham allegedly found Mr O'Keefe with his trouser leg soaked with blood, saying that Nolan had stabbed him.

Mr O'Keefe then went into the bathroom where he collapsed in the bath, as Mr Farnham rushed to get help, jurors heard.

The following day, a knife with the victim's blood on it was found in a communal bin near Mr Farnham's flat and Nolan was arrested, the court heard.

Mr Evans said: "Based on the medical evidence and the blood staining inside the flat, it would appear that James O'Keefe suffered a single stab wound that bled profusely, unchecked and untreated for a lengthy period of time, before he collapsed in the bathroom.

"In all likelihood, James O'Keefe did not appreciate the potential seriousness of the injury he had suffered. Whether this was because he was intoxicated or whether he lost consciousness is not known.

"What is clear though is that the wound bled profusely. No doubt unbeknownst to him, the knife wound damaged an underlying varicose vein."

Mr Evans said that in light of the size of the shallow wound, the prosecution's case was that Nolan stabbed Mr O'Keefe intending to cause him some but not really serious harm.

Nolan had claimed an argument had blown up between Mr O'Keefe and Mr Farnham over a coat the victim was refusing to return.

In a defence statement, Nolan said he had tried to reason with Mr O'Keefe, who then armed himself with a small wooden rounders bat and threatened him.

Mr Evans said: "It is the defendant's case that he picked up a knife inside the flat in order to deter James O'Keefe, who was armed and advancing upon him, and that O'Keefe suffered the injury to his thigh as a result of stumbling towards him while he was holding the knife."

The trial at the Old Bailey got under way despite last-minute information that one of the panel who attended court on Monday "may or may not" be infected with coronavirus.

The man had been among those who had gathered to be selected under strict social distancing conditions at the central London court.

Before the trial began on Tuesday, Judge Nigel Lickley QC told the remaining jurors: "Shortly before 2pm it was brought to my attention that one of the jury panel yesterday may or may not have been infected with coronavirus.

"It appears that on May 23 he had some symptoms and called the NHS who advised him to isolate for seven days.

"He did not have a test and a few days before he was due to come here he felt much better so that is why he came."

He asked the remaining jurors if any of them had any concerns.

All of the men and women, sitting in court at two-metre intervals, nodded their heads and confirmed they were happy to continue.

Each has a mini bottle of hand sanitiser, mask, gloves and tissues laid out at their work stations in the well of the court.

Barristers have taken over the jury box while journalists were spaced out on the press bench.

The Old Bailey is one of a handful of criminal courts testing social-distancing measures to enable new trials to start safely following the lockdown.