Trial into murder of man beaten and strangled to death is adjourned

A house remains cordoned off by police ion Halstead Road in Aldham

Police at the scene of the alleged murder in Colchester - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The trial of a 28-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy accused of murdering an Essex pensioner who was beaten and strangled to death in his home during a burglary has been adjourned until tomorrow (Tuesday, June 22) 

The jury was sent home on Friday without hearing any evidence after a juror was unable to attend court.

It was hoped the trial could continue today (Monday, June 21).

However, the jury was sent home again today without  hearing any evidence after the same member of the jury was still unable to attend court. 

Before the court are Leighton Snook, 28, and a 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named due to his age. 

They have have denied murdering Donald Ralph at his home in Halstead Road, Aldham, near Colchester in December last year. 

Donald Ralph was found dead at his home on Monday 

The pair are accused of murdering Donald Ralph, pictured - Credit: Essex Police

Snook, of no fixed address, also denies burglary and theft of a car, while the 16-year-old also denies theft of a car. 

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Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, has alleged the pair were seen on CCTV travelling near to Mr Ralph's home by taxi during the afternoon of Monday, December 28 last year.  

The court has heard that Mr Ralph, whose body was found by his niece Tina Ralph on December 29, was beaten until he bled and was strangled to death.  

"His landline telephone was ripped out of its socket to prevent any calls being made", Mr Spence said.  

A post-mortem examination revealed five areas of blunt force trauma to Mr Ralph's face and head and concluded that he died from strangulation.  

Two guns which Mr Ralph had certificates for - a self-loading Ruger Rifle 22 RF and a Browning 12 bore over and under shotgun - were stolen from the property 

Mr Ralph's blue Volvo was also taken from his driveway and was driven to Sussex, the court heard.  

Snook and the teenager spent the night at a friend's home before travelling to Hastings, Sussex, in the Volvo the following day,  said Mr Spence. 

He claimed that Snook and the teenager wanted to "obtain money or to take items to raise money". 

Mr Spence said Snook was "related by step-marriage" to Mr Ralph and had been "desperate for money". 

He said that prior to his death, Mr Ralph had received a call from a man, believed to be Snook, saying he needed £6,000 to £8,000 which he owed to a drug dealer. 

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