Nov 9 2011 by David Holmes, Chester Chronicle
A COUPLE were accused of plotting to carry out the deliberate murder of a debt collector who came to their house, in the closing speech by the prosecution at Liverpool Crown Court.
Michael Chambers QC told the jury that Scott Davidson, 23, and Rachael Horton, 19, from Little Sutton, slipped from the fantasy world of the gangster rap music they both enjoyed to a world of armed robbery and homicide.
He accused the pair, who both deny murder, of planning to kill 49-year-old Martin Ithell, to whom they owed thousands of pounds, in an attempt to remove the obstacle to their future together.
Mr Ithell, from Boughton, Chester, was to be lured to their house in Frodsham where Davidson would shoot him with a shot gun and Horton would use a kitchen knife in ‘finishing him off’.
He said: “Neither appear to have shown any concern for his (Martin Ithell) well-being once he’s been shot and stabbed, once he’s lying there in their hallway. It seems neither of them has shown any remorse since then. Why? Because they did what they intended to do.”
Mr Chambers said text messages between the pair revealed the thought processes going through the defendants’ minds.
One from Horton to Davidson read: “We got each other’s back, Loo (her pet name for Davidson) . Job all over and done with then we can start a family.”
He dismissed Davidson’s assertion that ‘job’ was a reference to an armed robbery at Hapsford services, near Chester, that the pair were planning for the day after the fatal incident.
But in his closing speech, Richard Pratt QC, for Davidson, dismissed the notion of a murder plan and asked the jury to consider the facts not theories and speculation.
For example, he challenged the prosecution’s claim the accused bought paint and decorating equipment like plastic sheeting to cover any blood splashes.
He quoted text messages from Davidson’s other girlfriend, Francesca Whaling, 28, from Church Lawton, who was expecting to move in with Davidson and made references to wallpaper and decorating.
Mr Pratt argued Martin Ithell’s conduct bore all the classic hallmarks of a loan shark who had told his client about having access to firearms.
He suggested Mr Ithell had a hand gun with him that fateful night on March 11 and his client had been entitled to defend himself.
He claimed one or both of the two men who accompanied Mr Ithell as back-up had disposed of it afterwards so that it was never found.
Mr Pratt argued Davidson’s shotgun had gone off by accident because of the worn trigger mechanism confirmed by a prosecution expert. Even if the jury did not accept Mr Ithell had not been armed, they must find him not guilty of murder because there had been no intention to kill or cause serious harm, meaning a manslaughter verdict would be appropriate.
Finally, he noted his client had initially assumed responsibility for the stabbing in interviews with police to protect the woman he had loved but at the trial had realised the weight of evidence made it impossible to maintain this position.
Andrew Thomas, QC, for Horton, in his closing speech, countered that there was 'no evidence' that Horton did the knifing and argued Davidson, who had stabbed before, was attempting to pin the blame on his co-defendant. He added: "What he could no longer support was the argument that he stabbed in self-defence."
Mr Thomas said it was in fact the prosecution that was indulging in fantasy by suggesting there had been an elaborate plan to murder Mr Ithell.
The mundane reality was an argument had simply escalated out of control. His client had been in 'the wrong place at the wrong time'.
He accepted Horton had lied to protect Davidson when, at the scene, she told police she had done the stabbing and later in a statement when she claimed her co-defendant had actually used the knife but in self-defence.
Mr Thomas said: "Just because someone lies and covers up and tries to protect their boyfriend does not mean they are guilty of murder."
Judge Clement Goldstone QC, Recorder of Liverpool, will begin his summing today (Wednesday).
The trial continues.
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