Murder accused punched alleged victim twice, court hears

Joe Pooley, from Ipswich, was found dead in the River Gipping in 2018 Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Joe Pooley's body was found in the River Gipping - Credit: Archant

A man accused of murdering 22-year-old Joe Pooley - whose body was found in the River Gipping - told a jury he left him on the ground after punching him twice.  

Giving evidence from the witness box at Ipswich Crown Court, Sebastian Smith told jurors he was with co-defendant Sean Palmer when he struck out at Mr Pooley twice. 

Smith then told the court he then shaped to kick Mr Pooley but he "flinched and covered himself" so he did not follow through with the kick. 

Smith admitted throwing Mr Pooley's phone in the river before he and Palmer ran off, leaving Mr Pooley on the ground, the court heard. 

Allison Summers QC, representing Smith, asked him how he felt when he heard about Mr Pooley's death on August 13. 

He replied: "I panicked. I thought I had killed him. You hear about these one punch killers, I just thought my punch had killed him."

Asked why he left Ipswich for Scotland shortly after the alleged murder, Smith said he had had a "spotlight shone" on him and "needed to get away for a while".

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Describing Mr Pooley, Smith said: "He was very easily led, you could get him to do anything. He was easily used by people."

Asked by Ms Summers whether he and Palmer had thrown Mr Pooley into the river, he replied: "No."

Before Ipswich Crown Court is Sebastian Smith, 35, of no fixed address, Sean Palmer, 30, of South Market Road, Great Yarmouth, Becki West-Davidson, 30, of Rope Walk, Ipswich, and Lisa-Marie Smith, 26, of Hawick, Roxburghshire.

They have all denied murdering Mr Pooley on or before August 7, 2018.

Christopher Paxton QC, prosecuting, has alleged that West-Davidson, who had a sexual relationship with Mr Pooley, had been angry with Mr Pooley over comments he was said to have made about her and Lisa-Marie Smith and had “stoked up hostility towards him”.

He claimed Sebastian Smith and Palmer had attacked Mr Pooley and thrown his body in the River Gipping after Sebastian Smith’s then girlfriend, Lisa-Marie Smith, allegedly lured Mr Pooley from his address at the Kingsley House Hotel knowing he was going to be attacked.

He claimed that following the discovery of Mr Pooley’s body, Palmer told his then girlfriend Rebecca Crosfield, that Sebastian Smith had punched Mr Pooley and he had helped put him in the river.

Mr Paxton alleged that the defendants had “bullied, threatened and ganged up on” Mr Pooley.

The cause of Mr Pooley's death was immersion in water.

The trial continues.