Sentencing of pair who killed pensioner is adjourned

A murder investigation has been launched after a man was found dead in Aldham

Police at the scene in Aldham, near Colchester - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The sentencing of a 28-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy who killed an Essex pensioner, found beaten and strangled to death in his home, has been adjourned until next week. 

Leighton Snook, of Albrighton Croft, Colchester, and the teenager were due to have been sentenced on Friday (October 1) but after hearing mitigation from their barristers Judge Martyn Levett adjourned the case until Monday (October 4). 

Snook was found guilty by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court of murdering Donald Ralph, 83, who was a distant relative, in August after a trial.

The 17-year-old, who can’t be named because of his age, was found guilty of manslaughter.

They had both denied murder.

Donald Ralph was murdered at his home in Aldham in December last year

Donald Ralph was murdered at his home in Aldham in December last year - Credit: Essex Police

Snook was also found guilty of burglary and following the jury’s verdicts he admitted stealing a Mercedes from Colchester and an Audi from Kesgrave Cars in December last year.

The teenager admitted burglary.

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The court heard the pair were seen on CCTV near Mr Ralph's home in Halstead Road, Aldham, on December 28 last year.

Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, said Mr Ralph was beaten until he bled and strangled to death and his landline telephone ripped out.

Two guns were stolen as well as his Volvo which was used by Snook and the teenager to travel to Sussex.

Mr Ralph’s niece Tina discovered his body the next day.

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. 

Snook claimed he’d gone to Mr Ralph’s home with the teenager to ask if he could borrow his car.

He said he’d been hoping to steal cannabis from an outbuilding in the Colchester area and wanted to borrow Mr Ralph’s car.

He said Mr Ralph had agreed to let him borrow his car and was fine when he left him.

The teenager chose not to give evidence during the trial.

Christopher Paxton QC for the 17-year-old said he was “immature, impressionable and easily led” and his role in what happened was minor.

In a letter to the judge the teenager described Mr Ralph’s death as “totally unacceptable” and apologised to the pensioner’s family for getting involved in the burglary at his home.

Isabella Forshall QC for Snook said he had a difficult childhood and had used cocaine from a young age.

She said there had been concerns about his mental state in latter part of last year and he had sought help.

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