Jury retires to consider verdict in murder trial

A house remains cordoned off by police ion Halstead Road in Aldham following an incident.

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

The jury in the trial of a 28-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy accused of murdering Essex pensioner Donald Ralph, who was beaten and strangled to death in his home, has today (August 10) retired 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 83-year-old Mr Ralph’s car and 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 in Halstead Road, Aldham, 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. 

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

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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’d 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, which started in June. 

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