Murder accused's DNA found on alleged victim's body, court told

Donald Ralph was found dead at his home on Monday 

Donald Ralph was beaten and strangled to death in his home - Credit: Essex Police

The DNA of a 28-year-old man was found on the body of an 83-year-old Essex pensioner who was beaten and strangled to death in his own home during a burglary, a jury has heard.  

Forensic scientist Simon Malsom told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday (July 19) that Leighton Snook’s DNA was found on swabs taken from Donald Ralph’s left palm and from under the fingernails of his right hand. 

He said it was a billion times more likely that the DNA came from Snook than someone unknown or unrelated to him. 

Mr Malsom said Snook’s DNA was also found on the front neckline of a fleece Mr Ralph was wearing when he died. 

He said no DNA from a 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was found on Mr Ralph’s body. 

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

Police at the scene of the incident in Aldham after Mr Ralph's death - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Snook and the 16-year-old boy have both denied murdering Mr Ralph at his home in Halstead Road, Aldham, near Colchester in December last year. 

It has been alleged that the pair were seen on CCTV travelling near to Mr Ralph's home by taxi during the afternoon of Monday, December 28. 

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Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, has told the court that Mr Ralph was beaten until he bled and strangled to death. 

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

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 used by Snook and the teenager to travel to Hastings, in Sussex, the following day. 

Mr Spence alleged that Snook and the teenager wanted to "obtain money or to take items to raise money". 

Jurors were told Snook was related to Mr Ralph by step-marriage and, prior to his death, Mr Ralph received a call from a man believed to be Snook saying he needed £6,000 to £8,000 which was owed to a drug-dealer.  

Snook, of no fixed address, denies murder, burglary and theft of a motor vehicle.  

The 16-year-old denies murder and theft of a motor vehicle but has pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary, jurors were told.  

The trial continues. 

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