Trial into murder of Joe Pooley nears completion

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

Joe Pooley, whose body was found in the River Gipping - Credit: Archant

A jury has heard the closing speech from prosecutors as the trial into the murder of Ipswich man Joe Pooley nears its conclusion. 

Two men and two women are accused of "ganging up" and murdering 22-year-old Mr Pooley, whose body was found in the River Gipping. 

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

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

MORE: Murder accused ‘bullied and ganged up’ on autistic man found dead in river

The estimated eight-week trial began on October 14 across two courtrooms due to restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Opening the trial, prosecution counsel Christopher Paxton QC told jurors: “In the early hours of August 7, 2018, Joe Pooley was murdered by these four defendants.

“The prosecution case is that each had a role to play in events that caused Joe Pooley’s young life to end in the waters of the River Gipping.”

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Mr Paxton said Mr Pooley had been under the wing of adult social care and was considered to be “vulnerable, trusting of others and easily taken advantage of”.

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

The River Gipping, where Joe Pooley was found - Credit: Archant

He said West-Davidson’s anger with Mr Pooley, over comments he was said to have made about her and Lisa-Marie Smith, “stoked up hostility towards him”.

Mr Paxton alleged that West-Davidson had encouraged others to attack Mr Pooley at the riverside.

He claimed that Sebastian Smith and Palmer had attacked Mr Pooley and caused his body to end up in the river.

He alleged that Sebastian Smith’s then girlfriend, Lisa-Marie Smith, lured Mr Pooley from his address at the Kingsley House Hotel, in London Road, knowing he was going to be attacked, or at the very least “given a serious beating”.

MORE: Murder accused punched alleged victim twice, court hears

Sebastian Smith, who was the only defendant to give evidence in the case, denied telling a friend that he and Palmer had “put Joe in the river.”

He admitted punching Mr Pooley twice but told the jury he and Palmer then ran off and left Mr Pooley on the ground. 

He denied throwing Mr Pooley into the river and asked why he left Ipswich for Scotland shortly after the alleged murder, Smith said he "needed to get away for a while".

Defence teams of the four defendants are expected to begin their closing speeches to the jury on Monday. 

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