Man accused of pensioner's murder denies 'losing it'

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

A house remains cordoned off by police on Halstead Road in Aldham - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A 28-year-old man accused of murdering an 83-year-old Essex pensioner who was beaten and strangled to death during a burglary has denied that he killed him after “losing it.”

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

Cross-examined by Christopher Paxton QC, who is representing the 16-year-old boy who is jointly accused of murdering Mr Ralph, Snook denied that they had gone to the pensioner’s home to steal his guns. 

Asked by Mr Paxton if he had “lost it” in Mr Ralph’s bungalow and murdered him he replied: “That’s not true.”

Snook told the jury that he was hoping to steal 90 ounces of cannabis from an outbuilding in the Colchester area and needed to borrow a car to do the job.

Donald Ralph was found dead at his home on Monday 

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

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

Snook claimed that Mr Ralph had agreed to let him borrow his car “for a day or so” and that when he left his bungalow he was physically fine.

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Snook, of no fixed address, denies murder, burglary and theft of Mr Ralph’s car.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, 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 to Mr Ralph's home by taxi on December 28.

Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, has 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.

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. 

The trial continues.

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