'I met murder victim on the day he died'

A TRAVELLER accused of murdering a Suffolk man has admitted that he met the victim on the day of his death but denied killing him.

Anthony Bond

A TRAVELLER accused of murdering a Suffolk man has admitted that he met the victim on the day of his death but denied killing him.

Tony Holland, 23, told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court yesterdaythat he met 20-year-old Bill O'Connor on April 27 last year at Hardwick Shopping Centre in Bury St Edmunds.

Holland, who is also accused of murdering Northamptonshire traveller Danny Hathaway, 44, said he was with a friend called Joe who had arranged to meet Mr O'Connor at the shopping precinct in Home Farm Lane.

Holland told the jury that he agreed to drive Joe to the shopping centre and dropped him off near the back of the shops and then parked up his van.

“I got out of the van to see if I could recognise anybody and I walked across and I think that Bill recognised me, at which point he started walking towards me and I shook his hand and he said 'what have you got?' and I told him that it was not me he wanted.”

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Holland said he told Mr O'Connor that Joe was at the back of the shops and he left to get the van.

When he returned with the van he told the jury that he saw Joe and Mr O'Connor talking to each other.

Holland said: “I got there and it seemed like everything was going okay and Bill was there by himself and there was no trouble and Joe gave me the nod so I took a walk and left them to it.”

Holland told the jury that he went for a walk but shortly after saw Joe driving towards him in the van. “He said that hehad not done good and wants to buy everything but had no money to buy anything,” said Holland.

Holland's barrister Patricia Lynch QC asked him: “What sort of deal did you understand himto be doing with O'Connor?”

Holland replied: “He never showed me but I believe that it was drugs”. Holland said that he then drove to Norwich where he dropped Joe off.

The prosecution claim that Holland stabbed the 20-year-old because he thought Mr O'Connor had showed a fancy to his fiancée Lisa Smith.

The jury was read transcripts of phone conversations between Holland and Lisa Smith when the traveller was in prison. In one conversation Holland said: “I do not care if I get done, knowing what that bastard done to you. Those nightmares he gave you.”

In another conversation with his fiancée, Holland said: “Please tell me that I am not in here for nothing?”

Patricia Lynch QC said: “The suggestion is that this amounts to a confession that you had actually murdered Bill O'Connor for one reason or another. That is the suggestion, did you murder him?

Holland replied “No”.

Mr O'Connor died after suffering eight stab wounds to the head, heart, eye and neck.

Holland has also denied killing Danny Hathaway who was last seen on February 7 last year. It is alleged that his blood was found in a transit van belonging to Holland and on Holland's boots and spade. His body has never been found.

The trial continues today.

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