A MAN recognised an alleged murder victim from a Pioneer photo as being a debt collector who punched him and threatened to break his legs, a court heard.
Denis Coupe was called as a defence witness in a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in which Scott Davidson pleads not guilty to murdering Martin Ithell, 49, of Boughton, Chester, on ground of self-defence and his ex-girlfriend Rachael Horton also denies murder.
The court heard Mr Coupe, of Little Neston, took out a lease purchase agreement on a K-reg Rover car from County Autos at Sandycroft in Deeside in 2005.
But two males visited his home one morning after a dispute arose with the garage which claimed £950 was still outstanding.
He recalled one male was ‘doing the talking’ who was about 5ft 6 in tall, of stocky build and with a goatee beard.
Mr Coupe says he informed the pair he had sold the car at which point he claims the same man punched him on his upper lip and told him: “You owe a certain amount. If it’s not paid, I will break your legs.”
He said the man put foot his foot in the doorway and repeated the threat. Later he gave a statement to police.
Mr Coupe claimed the same threat was repeated when the men returned to his home ‘a week or two later’ when his partner and children aged 11 and seven were present.
Again a foot was placed in the door and Mr Coupe says he ended up paying £100 cash to get the men to leave.
He never saw either of the males again but received phone calls five or six times a day for a couple of weeks. He answered the phone once or twice and recognised the voice as being the man who assaulted him.
Messages were left on his voicemail ‘along the lines of ‘telephone Martin’,” said Mr Coupe, who made a second statement to police because he felt intimidated and threatened.
The case was not pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service but Mr Coupe said he believed the male to be Martin Ithell.
A police officer told him the phone number he had been asked to ring related to a paint-balling business run by Mr Ithell who had given the same number following a burglary.
Mr Coupe said he also recognised a photo of the deceased in the Ellesmere Port Pioneer as part of coverage of the trial.
The court was told a document served on him by the garage gave contact details for Thomas M Ithell and Mr M Manning.
Prosecutor Michael Chambers QC accused Mr Coupe of having exaggerated what happened and cited a conviction from 2004 in which he was found to have stolen from his employer.
The trial continues.