Murder trial over 83-year-old strangled in his home enters final phase

Donald Ralph was found dead at his home on Monday 

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

The trial of a 28-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy accused of murdering an 83-year-old Essex pensioner who was beaten and strangled to death in his home has entered its closing stages.

Evidence in the case has concluded and the jury will now hear speeches from barristers in the case and a summing-up from Judge Martyn Levett, before retiring to consider its verdicts.

Before Ipswich Crown Court are Leighton Snook, of no fixed address, and a 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named because of his age.

Snook denies murder, burglary and theft of Mr Ralph’s car, while the teenager denies murder and theft of Mr Ralph’s car but has admitted burglary.

It has been alleged that the pair were seen on CCTV travelling near  Mr Ralph's home by taxi on December 28.

Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Ralph was beaten until he bled and strangled to death and his landline telephone ripped out of its socket.

Two of his guns were stolen, as well as his Volvo - which was used by Snook and the teenager to travel to Hastings, in Sussex, the following day.

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

The court heard that 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. 

Giving evidence, Snook said he had gone to Mr Ralph’s home in Halstead Road, Aldham on December 28 with the 16-year-old boy to ask if he could borrow Mr Ralph’s car.

He said he had been hoping to steal 90 ounces of cannabis from an outbuilding in the Colchester area and needed to borrow a car to do the job.

He said Mr Ralph was a family friend and he had decided to see if he could borrow his car.

He said Mr Ralph had let him into his house and had agreed to let him borrow his car “for a day or so” and that he was physically fine when he left him.

The 16-year-old chose not to give evidence during the trial.

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