Jury in trial of former soldier accused of dog walker’s murder near East Harling hears closing speeches

83-year-old Peter Wrighton, who was killed near East Harling. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

83-year-old Peter Wrighton, who was killed near East Harling. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY - Credit: Archant

The jury trying the case of a former soldier accused of murdering 83-year-old grandfather Peter Wrighton while he was walking his dogs in a Norfolk woodland has been hearing closing speeches in the trial.

Police at the scene in East Harling on August 5 last year. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Police at the scene in East Harling on August 5 last year. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Mr Wrighton, a former BT worker from Banham, died after a frenzied knife attack in East Harling on August 5 last year.

Alexander Palmer, 24, of Freesia Way, Cringleford, is on trial at Nottingham Crown Court after being charged with Mr Wrighton’s murder.

In his closing address to the jury this morning, prosecution barrister Stephen Spence said notes made by Palmer referring to voices in his head and his dislike of people, killing people, knives and stabbing and/or slashing throat as a method of killing were “prophetic” and were not a coincidence.

Reading out one extract from Palmer’s notes, Mr Spence said: “Murder they called it, as they wrote up my ascendance to greatness. My gift to you.

Alexander Palmer, 24, has been found guilty of murdering Peter Wrighton. Picture: FACEBOOK

Alexander Palmer, 24, has been found guilty of murdering Peter Wrighton. Picture: FACEBOOK - Credit: Facebook

“They weren’t even there to witness my art in all its glory, only its aftermath.

“I wonder what people will say for years to come. How did he? Why did he?”

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Mr Spence said these words were “a rather prophetic description of what happened to Peter Wrighton and the words of Alex Palmer.

“Whether he wants to call it “Alex” or “Little Alex” it’s Alex Palmer that sits and stayed sitting in the dock.”

The jury of eight women and four men were read further extracts from Palmer’s notes by Mr Spence.

They referred to Palmer hating dog walkers as they were “muttering things” about him under their breath.

Mr Spence said: “We say there are no coincidences in this case.

“Having expressed desire to kill, Alex Palmer went to the heath on that morning.

“He had in his car the knife that subsequently had gone missing and there out of the blue a man, a dog walker, [ended up] losing his life; having his throat torn out, being stabbed through the eye to stop the staring.

“That’s no coincidence ladies and gentlemen.

“Alex Palmer went there that day to carry out his ambition, to carry out what he had written about, to carry out what he had spoken about.”

The jury have also heard from David Spens QC, defence barrister for Palmer who has decided not to give evidence in the trial.

In his closing speech Mr Spens QC said because of what Palmer had said to mental health professionals the defendant “would appear to be a good candidate to be Mr Wrighton’s killer, I accept that”.

But he insisted the burden of proving the guilt of any defendant “lies with the prosecution from start to finish”.

He said: “The prosecution must make you sure of guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.”

He said suspicion alone was never enough to prove guilt.

Mr Spens QC said the jury has heard a lot of “very emotionally disturbing” evidence but he told them they should be “cool, calm and dispassionate”.

Referring to some of the notes made by Palmer he said they were a kind of “therapy” which got the thoughts out of his head and were not a “blueprint for action”.

Mr Spens QC said during police interviews Palmer was “forced” or “persuaded” into accepting he might have been on the west side of The Street - where Mr Wrighton had been killed - although in actual fact he had not been.

He said if Palmer was the killer it would have been “deadly” for anyone to make such an admission.

He said at the heart of the case was pathological evidence in the case points to the killer being left-handed when his client was right-handed.

Quoting the pathologist’s evidence, Mr Spens QC said: “The probability is that Mr Wrighton was attacked from behind with a sharp knife held in the attacker’s left hand.”

But the jury was told by the defence that Mr Palmer was right handed and if the pathologist was right, as the defence contends, then Palmer could not have been the killer.

He said it was a point the jury should “brush under the carpet”.

Mr Spens QC is due to finish his speech this afternoon before the judge, The Honourable Mr Justice Goose, sums up the case.

The trial continues.

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