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Court hears 999 call of car park worker who found rough sleeper dead

PUBLISHED: 18:08 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:09 25 October 2018

Martin Dines, 56, from Colchester, was found dead on Monday, April 23  Picture: PROVIDED BY FAMILY

Martin Dines, 56, from Colchester, was found dead on Monday, April 23 Picture: PROVIDED BY FAMILY

Archant

A rough sleeper’s friend and former partner has described the “repeated punches and kicks” inflicted by his alleged killers the night before his body was found in a Colchester car park.

Forensics investigate the scene at St Mary's car park  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNForensics investigate the scene at St Mary's car park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Lisa Peck told Ipswich Crown Court that Mark Hartley, Darren Miller and Heidi Kennedy all took part in the second of three alleged attacks on Martin Dines – found dead on a stairwell landing at St Mary’s car park on April 23.

Hartley, 32, of New Kiln Road, Miller, 46, of no fixed address, and Kennedy, 47, of Queen Elizabeth Way, deny killing the 56-year-old.

Miller admits manslaughter, while Kennedy admits assaulting Miss Peck outside a Crouch Street barbers, where she and another witness, Carl Hughes, were joined by Mr Dines after the first alleged attack in Head Street – sparked by a row over army credentials.

Prosecutors claim Mr Dines was beaten three times from 8.30pm to 1.45am – finally in the car park.

Police cordon off St Mary's car park in Colchester after the body of Martin Dines was found  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPolice cordon off St Mary's car park in Colchester after the body of Martin Dines was found Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He had been begging outside a bank when prosecutors claim the two males launched an attack, followed by a second in Crouch Street, where Miss Peck said she wiped his “blood covered” face with wet wipes before alleging all three defendants approached.

“He’d been going around saying Mark wasn’t in the Paraforce”, she told the trial, alleging Kennedy called Mr Dines a liar for doubting Hartley’s reputed Parachute Regiment links, before punching him in the face as Hartley and Miller “joined in”.

“Darren kicked him in the head repeatedly with his big black army boots, while Mark kicked him on the other side of the head with the same force,” she alleged.

“For no reason, Heidi punched me in the face about five times and pulled my hair when I got up”

Miss Peck said she followed Mr Dines, who had escaped towards the car park, but that she was diverted to an underpass by Mr Hughes – learning of her friend’s death the next day, she claimed.

Graham Parkins, for Kennedy, told Miss Peck she had received nothing more than a slap from his client, who took no further part in any violence towards Mr Dines.

He suggested Miss Peck was intoxicated and “got things wrong” about the incident, which Brian O’Neill, for Miller, said “never happened” in the way she described because his client was unsteady on his feet and lost toes to frostbite while sleeping rough.

On behalf of Hartley, Richard Sutton, questioned Miss Peck’s accuracy – presenting CCTV images of her later entering and leaving the car park with Mr Hughes.

He suggested Miller had “lost it” and given Mr Dines a “good beating”.

The court also heard a statement and 999 call by Robbie Bennett, a maintenance worker for the North Essex Parking Partnership, who found the body of Mr Dines.

Read by prosecutor Mr Spence, Mr Bennett’s statement said the car park was sometimes used by rough sleepers and that he passed someone lying under a pink blanket on a landing between levels five and six.

“I assumed it was a rough sleeper bedded down for the night,” added Mr Bennett, who then slammed a door leading to the roof, hoping to wake Mr Dines and return to enquire about his welfare.

“As I walked back down, I had a better view,” he said.

“I noticed his hands had drying blood on them.

“There was blood around his head and left side.”

Mr Bennett pulled back the blanket and saw Mr Dines was bloodied and bruised.

Finding no pulse, he called police and said: “There’s a body in the car park,” going on to report: “He’s been beaten up.”

The trial continues

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