Jury to consider verdicts in murder trial after man beaten and strangled

Donald Ralph was found dead at his home on Monday 

Donald Ralph was found dead at his home on Monday - Credit: Essex Police

The jury in a trial of two people accused of murdering an 83-year-old who was beaten and strangled to death in his home is expected to retire to consider its verdicts.

Before Ipswich Crown Court are Leighton Snook, 28, of no fixed address, and a 16-year-old boy who cannot be named because of his age. 

Snook denies murdering Donald Ralph, 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. His landline telephone was also 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, it is alleged.

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

Most Read

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. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter