Court told pair panicked after alleged attack on Joe Pooley

Four people will stand trial for the murder of Joe Pooley, from Ipswich, who was found dead in the River Gipping in 2018 Pi...

Four people will stand trial for the murder of Joe Pooley, from Ipswich, who was found dead in the River Gipping in 2018 Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

A man accused of murdering a 22-year-old Ipswich man whose body was found in a river told a witness he had panicked and put him in the river after hitting him so hard that he fell to the ground.

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

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

Sebastian Smith allegedly told the girlfriend of his co-defendant Sean Palmer that he and Palmer and another co-defendant Lisa Smith had a drinking competition at his home, and afterwards he and Palmer had walked Joe Pooley back to the hotel where he’d been staying.

On the way there had been an argument and he had punched Mr Pooley in the head.

Sebastian Smith allegedly told Rebecca Crosfield, who had been in a relationship with Palmer, that he had hit Mr Pooley so hard that he dropped to the ground and he and Palmer had panicked.

He allegedly told her that Palmer had helped him put Mr Pooley into the river and that he was at the head end and Palmer had held Mr Pooley’s ankles as they swung him into the river.

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Christopher Paxton QC, prosecuting, told the jury that if they accepted Ms Crosfield’s evidence about what she claimed Sebastian Smith told her, it amounted to a confession by him to murdering Mr Pooley.

Palmer had also allegedly told Ms Crosfield that he had helped put Mr Pooley “into the river” and Mr Paxton said if this was right it was a confession to murder

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Mr Paxton alleged that Lisa Smith had told a witness that a drunk man had died at her home and that she and Sebastian Smith had taken him to the river and rolled him off a bridge into the water.

Smith, 35, of no fixed address, 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 court has heard that Mr Pooley had autism and was considered to be “vulnerable, trusting of others and easily taken advantage of”.

Mr Paxton 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 that 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, 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.”

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

Mr Paxton 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”.

He said that although West-Davidson had expressed love for Mr Pooley she had fallen into a rage after learning about comments he’d allegedly made about her children.

Sebastian Smith had allegedly been angry about things Mr Pooley was supposed to have said about him and his girlfriend Lisa-Marie Smith and sent him a text saying: “I’m going everywhere until I find you.”

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

He said that prior to his death Mr Pooley received a message from Sebastian Smith saying: “RIP Joe” and one from West-Davidson saying: “I wish you’d just die tbh.”

During his opening of the case to the jury Mr Paxton claimed that Sebastian Smith had lied to Mr Pooley’s mother after he went missing by telling her he had “come over a few days ago” and that “he’s prob got some weed n chilling”.

The trial continues.

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