Murder accused allegedly tried to cover his tracks – court told

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 lied to his mother after he went missing, a court has heard.

Shortly before Joe Pooley was reported missing, Sebastian Smith allegedly told Mr Pooley’s mother that he had “come over a few days ago” and that “he’s prob got some weed n chilling”, Ipswich Crown court heard.

“This was Sebastian Smith lying to Joe Pooley’s mother Sam Nicholls,” said Christopher Paxton, prosecuting.

He said in another message Smith said he would go mad if someone has “mugged“ Joe Pooley off.

Mr Paxton said Smith sent these messages to Mr Pooley’s mother despite the fact he had sent Mr Pooley a message saying “RIP Joe” shortly before his death and also threatening to” bury” him.


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“Sebastian Smith’s duplicity, or two-faced attitude, is breathtaking when set alongside Joe Pooley’s mother’s attempts to locate her son. One can only imagine the desperation of Miss Nicholls in seeking to find her son, and yet Sebastian Smith responded in the way that you can see here,” said Mr Paxton.

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.

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The court has heard that Mr Pooley had autism and was considered to be “vulnerable, trusting of others and easily taken advantage of”.

Christopher Paxton QC, prosecuting, has alleged that West-Davidson, who had a sexual relationship with Mr Pooley, had been angry with him 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.

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.”

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