Murder accused told witness Joe Pooley ‘had ended up in the river and drowned’

PUBLISHED: 18:40 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:40 03 November 2020

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

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


A man accused of murdering an Ipswich man whose body was found in the River Gipping allegedly told a witness that he’d “ended up in the river and drowned”.

Giving evidence at Ipswich Crown Court via a video link from Scotland Andrew Cairney said he got to know Sebastian Smith after he and his partner Lisa Smith moved into the same block of flats as him in Hawick following the alleged killing.

He said that Smith talked to him about 22-year-old Joe Pooley, whose body was discovered in the River Gipping in August 2018 and told him that he’d “ended up in the river and drowned”.

Cross-examined by Allison Summers QC for Sebastian Smith, Mr Cairney accepted that nothing Smith told him led him to contact the police as he didn’t believe everything he said as he was a bit of a “show off”.

He said Smith had boasted about his sex life and said he had taken part in threesomes and orgies.

Mr Cairney accepted that after Sebastian Smith was arrested in January last year he had looked up details relating to Mr Pooleys death in online local newspaper reports.

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Mr Cairney said Sebastian Smith had told him that a week before Mr Pooley’s death he’d taken him to some woods and made him dig his own grave.

Cross-examined by Miss Summers he said he couldn’t remember Smith actually saying that if he had wanted to kill Mr Pooley he wouldn’t have done it in the river close to where he lived but would have taken him to some woods and made him dig his own grave.

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

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 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, 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 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 trial continues.

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