Man convicted of murdering Joe Pooley refuses to attend sentencing

Photo of Joe Pooley in dark tee shirt

Joe Pooley, from Ipswich, who was found in the River Gipping - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A man accused of murdering Ipswich man Joe Pooley, whose body was found in the River Gipping, has refused to attend his sentencing hearing at Ipswich Crown Court today (Monday, May 24). 

Sebastian Smith was due to have been brought from prison to be sentenced alongside his two co-defendants, Sean Palmer and Becki West-Davidson. 

In a letter read out the court by Judge Martyn Levett, Smith said he felt the trial process was biased. 

Joe Pooley's body was discovered in the River Gipping Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Joe Pooley's body was found in the River Gipping in 2018 - Credit: Archant

He added that he didn’t see the point of coming to court and wouldn’t accept what he described as “the equally biased sentence”. 

Smith, Palmer and West-Davidson were all convicted of murder by majority verdicts at Ipswich Crown Court in March following a four-month trial.  

A fourth defendant, Lisa-Marie Smith, was unanimously cleared of murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter. 

Mr Pooley's body was found in the River Gipping by a dog walker at about 10.30am on August 13, 2018.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of his death was immersion in water. 

The defendants were accused of ganging up and murdering the 22-year-old on or before August 7. 

Sean Palmer, Sebastian Smith and Becki West-Davidson

Sean Palmer, Sebastian Smith and Becki West-Davidson, who were convicted of murdering Ipswich man Joe Pooley - Credit: Suffolk Police

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Smith, 35, of no fixed address, Palmer, 30, of South Market Road, Great Yarmouth, West-Davidson, 30, of Rope Walk, Ipswich, and Lisa-Marie Smith, 26, of Hawick, Roxburghshire, had all denied murder and manslaughter. 

Opening the trial in October, prosecution counsel Christopher Paxton QC alleged that each defendant had a role to play in events that led to the death of Mr Pooley, who had been under the wing of adult social care and was considered to be “vulnerable, trusting of others and easily taken advantage of”.