Death of Joe Pooley 'could have been accident', jury hears

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

A jury heard that the death of Joe Pooley could have been an accident - Credit: Archant

The death of Ipswich man Joe Pooley could have been an accident, a jury has heard. 

The defence closing speeches in the murder trial continued on Wednesday, with Simon Spence QC, representing Sean Palmer, addressing the jury. 

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

Palmer, 30, of South Market Road, Great Yarmouth, Becki West-Davidson, 30, of Rope Walk, Ipswich, Sebastian Smith, 35, of no fixed address, 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. 

During Sebastian Smith's evidence earlier in the trial, he told jurors he was with Palmer when he struck out at Mr Pooley twice. 

Sebastian Smith told the court he threw Mr Pooley's mobile phone in the river before he and Palmer ran off, leaving Mr Pooley on the ground. 

MORE: Murder accused denies telling mother he held alleged victim down in river

Most Read

Mr Spence suggested to the jury that Mr Pooley could have fallen into the river, swam for a short time and then drowned. 

Mr Spence said prosecutors in the case claimed Mr Pooley could not have fallen into the river, but questioned the lack of forensic examination.

"Members of the jury, where is the evidence of any forensic examination of the scene?" he said. 

"There was no real examination of the scene and that is a startling failure in any police investigation, let alone a murder investigation.

"We suggest you cannot be sure that this wasn't an accident." 

Mr Spence added that Palmer had no motive to be involved in the alleged killing as he was friends with Mr Pooley. 

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

The scene at the River Gipping - Credit: Archant

During a police interview previously read to the jury, Palmer also denied telling his mother that Sebastian Smith had pushed Mr Pooley into the river behind Argos in London Road, Ipswich.

Palmer also told police that he wouldn’t have admitted anything like that to his mother and said he wouldn’t have gone into the river because it was dirty. 

The prosecution has alleged that all four defendants had a role to play in events that caused Mr Pooley's death. 

It is alleged that 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”.

It is also alleged that West-Davidson had encouraged others to attack Mr Pooley at the riverside, and that Sebastian Smith and Palmer attacked him and threw his body into the River Gipping. 

Prosecutors have claimed West-Davidson “tried to cover up” the alleged murder by deleting a number of Facebook messages, including one in which Mr Pooley asked her to “call off the hit” and another telling Mr Pooley “you’re f****d, mate”.

Palmer, West-Davidson and Lisa-Marie Smith all chose not to give evidence during the trial.

All the defence closing speeches are expected to conclude at the end of this week. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter