Joe Pooley death: Two men and two women 'attacked vulnerable man and threw him into a river'

Joe Pooley Credit: Suffolk police

A gang of men and women murdered a vulnerable man after he insulted one of them in a text message.Joe Pooley, who was 22, was found dead in the river gipping in August 2018.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that he had had sex with Becki West-Davidson at her flat in the town and she had told Mr Pooley she wanted to start a family with him.

Christopher Paxton QC, prosecuting said that the day after, West-Davidson became hostile toward Mr Pooley and that they argued over text messages.

He said one of the messages Mr Pooley sent West-Davidson on Facebook later thatday read: "sick c***, no wonder you ain't with your kids".

"This is a clear reference to the fact Miss West-Davidson's children do notlive with her," said Mr Paxton.

He said West-Davidson replied to Mr Pooley: "I dare you to say one more thingabout my kids" and that it seemed like a threat toward him.

Mr Paxton continued, "Rebecca West-Davidson was later to admit in her police interview that she was so angry about this comment about her children that she smashed up her room."

He said the four defendants - Rebecca West-Davidson who lived in Rope Walk along with Sean Palmer from Great Yarmouth, Sebastian Smith of no fixed address and his girlfriend, Lisa-Marie Smith, who lives in Scotland - were all party to the murder of Mr Pooley, who was considered a vulnerable adult.

Mr Paxton said: "It's our prosecution case that each of the four had a role to play in theevents that caused Joe Pooley's young life to end in the waters of the RiverGipping. Joe Pooley was 22 when he was murdered. He was a young man under the wing of adult social care and was considered to be vulnerable, easily trusting of others and easily taken advantage of."He said West-Davidson, 30, was angry with Mr Pooley and "stoked up hostility towards him in the hours leading up to his death".

"When his body was thrown into the river she encouraged others to attackhim" he said. "You can be a party to a murder even if you're not the one to lay hands onthem."

He said Sean Palmer, 30, and 35-year-old Sebastian Smith attacked Mr Pooley and threw him in the river in the early hours of August 7, 2018 and that Lisa-Marie Smith assisted, by luring him from his home, knowing that he was going to be attacked. Mr Pooley's body was found by a dog walker six days later.

"There are no eyewitnesses to the murder of Joe Pooley, nobody saw whathappened to him in the last moments of his life," said Mr Paxton.

"So the evidence linking these defendants to the events that caused JoePooley's death has been painstakingly obtained and analysed. This includes mobile phone data, text messages and deleted Facebook messages that police managed to recover."

The four defendants all deny the murder of Mr Pooley, and they all deny afurther count of manslaughter.

The trial continues and is expected to last eight weeks.