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Murder suspect ‘acted like he was at party’ hours before body found

PUBLISHED: 16:49 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:29 06 November 2018

Martin Dines, 56, from Colchester, was found dead on Monday, April 23. Picture: PROVIDED BY FAMILY

Martin Dines, 56, from Colchester, was found dead on Monday, April 23. Picture: PROVIDED BY FAMILY

Archant

A man accused of murdering a rough sleeper appeared “blasé” and “as though he was at a party” hours before his alleged victim was found dead in a car park, a court heard.

Police cordon off St Mary's car park in Colchester after the body of Martin Dines was found  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNPolice cordon off St Mary's car park in Colchester after the body of Martin Dines was found Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Witness Jacqueline McLintock told Ipswich Crown Court she met a “happy” Mark Hartley on her way to buy cigarettes in the Manor Road area of Colchester between 11pm and 11.15pm on Sunday, April 22.

The badly beaten body of homeless man Martin Dines was found at St Mary’s multi-storey car park in Balkerne Hill, Colchester, the following morning.

Prosecutors claim the 56-year-old was left to die after being beaten three times, at three locations, between 8.30pm on the Sunday and 1.45am on Monday, April 23.

At 11.21pm on April 22, the defendants allegedly entered St Mary’s car park.

Ms McLintock recognised Hartley, who she claims had carried out a campaign of harassment against her and her partner, after meeting him on the night in question.

She felt scared and eager to run away.

“I was terrified,” she told the court. “I was shaking and crying.”

After asking Ms McLintock if she was okay, the court heard Hartley, who was with two other people introduced as Heidi Kennedy and Darren Miller, told her: “I am looking at seven to eight years.”

In witness statements Ms McLintock described a “campaign of harassment” carried out by Hartley between the autumn of 2017 and April 2018.

She said the 32-year-old threatened to kill her, punched her neighbour in the face and smashed property belonging to her and her boyfriend.

When questioned about the defendants’ moods on April 22 she said Hartley appeared “blasé”.

Ms McLintock described him as “happy and as if he was at a party”, adding in witness statements that he seemed to be under the influence and as though he was “not on this planet”.

She said Kennedy, who appeared quiet, put her arm around her and said: “Darling, what’s wrong?”

And Miller, who she also described as quiet, seemed angry and agitated.

It is alleged Mr Dines, 56, died from punches, kicks and stamps inflicted by Hartley, Miller and Kennedy during a row over army credentials.

At 11.21pm on April 22, the defendants allegedly entered St Mary’s car park.

Miller, 46, of no fixed address, Hartley, of New Kiln Road, Colchester, and Kennedy, 47, of Queen Elizabeth Way, Colchester, have all denied murdering Mr Dines on April 23.

Miller has admitted manslaughter.

The trial continues.

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