Murder trial hears from victim's friends

FRIENDS of a traveller who allegedly went missing after a meeting with another traveller said they believed something sinister had happened because it was out of character for him to disappear without letting his family know where he was, a court heard.

Jane Hunt

FRIENDS of a traveller who allegedly went missing after a meeting with another traveller said they believed something sinister had happened because it was out of character for him to disappear without letting his family know where he was, a court heard.

In a statement read to a jury at Ipswich Crown Court, Mary Williams said her friend Danny Hathaway was a family man and wouldn't have left his partner Diane Fury and their two children.

She said that, at the time of his disappearance in February 2007, Mr Hathaway, of Corby, Northamptonshire, had been looking forward to a family skiing holiday in Austria with his parents and would not have let them down.

Before the court is Tony Holland, 23, of Desborough, Northamptonshire, who has denied murdering 44-year-old Mr Hathaway whose body has never been found.

It has been alleged that Holland murdered him as part of a plot to rob him of thousands of pounds.

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Holland has also denied murdering 20-year-old Bill O'Connor who died after allegedly being attacked by Holland near his home in Bury St Edmunds last April.

He suffered eight stab wounds to the head, heart, eye and neck.

Holland, a traveller, is accused of killing him in broad daylight behind a shopping parade in Home Farm Lane.

The court has heard that Mr O'Connor had met Holland for a pre-arranged cocaine deal, but was allegedly attacked for “showing a fancy” to Holland's fiancee.

Following his arrest for Mr O'Connor's murder it emerged that Holland was on bail for allegedly murdering Mr Hathaway.

In a statement read to the court yesterday Ms Williams said that a dog belonging to one of Mr Hathaway's friends had been put down shortly before his disappearance and he wouldn't have let his friend down by not being around for him.

Rupert Wain, a friend of Mr Hathaway, said he was supposed to meet him on February 7, 2007, but he had not showed up.

Mr Wain said that Mr Hathaways's mobile phone had gone straight to voicemail when he tried to contact him.

The following morning Mr Hathaway's partner had contacted him and asked if he knew where Mr Hathaway was. “I knew then something was wrong,” said Mr Wain in a statement read to the court.

The trial continues today.

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