Taxi driver took women accused of murdering Norwich bus conductor back to victim’s home, court hears
PUBLISHED: 13:55 10 January 2013 | UPDATED: 13:56 10 January 2013
Two women who are accused of brutally beating and torturing a man in his own home before leaving him for dead were taken back to the scene of the alleged killing by a taxi driver as they had “some things to collect”, a court has heard.
Kelly Louise Barnes, 32, and Jodie Barnes, formerly Ramsbottom, 31, who are civil partners, are said to have attacked and tortured 67-year-old Barry Reeve in a bid to get him to reveal his pin number so they could feed their drink and drug habits.
The couple from Bixley Close, Norwich, who both deny murder, have gone on trial at Norwich Crown Court after the body of Mr Reeve, a former Eastern Counties Buses worker, was found by officers who were called to a property on Corton Road, off City Road, Norwich, on Sunday, February 26.
But Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, said it was some two weeks earlier, on February 9, that Mr Reeve, who was known as Titch or Schweppes to his friends, was attacked and left to die in the bungalow where he lived alone.
Giving evidence yesterday, taxi driver Niall Gallagher, who works for ABC Taxis, said his firm received a call at just after 8.30pm on February 9 to pick up two women from Sainsbury’s petrol station on Queen’s Road.
Mr Gallagher was told the women, who he described as “gaunt and skinny” had wanted to go to Bixley Close.
But on picking them up he was asked to “head towards Bracondale” as they “had some things to collect”.
The court heard he went and parked on Corton Road, close to gates at Clyffe Cottages, when one of them, believed to be Jodie, got out and tried to get over the gate but could not, so went over the wall.
Mr Gallagher, who had been told to turn his engine and lights off, said Kelly, who at this stage remained in the back of the car, told him they “had been living there and were kicked out by the guy they were living there with” who she added was an “alcoholic”.
Mr Gallagher said: “I got the impression he was older. I got the impression it was very recently they had been kicked out.” Jodie had been gone about 10 minutes or so and Mr Gallagher said he and Kelly “were both anxious” of how long she had been.
The court heard Kelly then got out of the taxi and attempted to get over the gate and although did not succeed at first, managed to get over a second time.
Bags then started appearing on a grass verge on the other side of the gate which had been put there by Jodie.
Mr Gallagher said Kelly then started “throwing them over the gate” prompting him to get out of the car to help.
The bags, about six or seven in total, were then passed by Kelly to Mr Gallagher who put them in the boot of his car. One of the bags contained medicines, which had smashed, while another had a camcorder in a bag while other contents included frozen foods.
Kelly then got back into the taxi and was later joined by Jodie before both asked Mr Gallagher to go back to the petrol station again where one of them got out to use the cash point before returning and stating that the “giro hadn’t gone in”.
The couple were then taken to Bixley Close before the boot was opened and the bags unloaded and taken to the house.
Mr Gallagher, who was to contact police after becoming aware of the publicity surrounding an incident at the Corton Road address, was asked by Mr Khalil if he felt comfortable with the job involving the two women.
He said: “It wasn’t normal”.
Earlier a statement was read by a Sainsbury’s security guard who said the two women, who had a large holdall and “seemed jumpy and jittery” and “behaving suspiciously” were huddled over the cash machine at the petrol station.
The jury yesterday heard the defendants had been at the Rose pub earlier on February 9 where they had appeared to be trying to sell a pair of roller skates.
Lisa Seager, a barmaid at the Rose pub on Queen’s Road, said she had been asked by one of the girls, believed to be Kelly, if she wanted to buy the roller skates.
She said she was not interested and advised her to write down her name and number and said they could put the note on a notice board in the pub to see if anyone was interested.
Miss Seager, who described both girls as having “sunken features” said Kelly, who bought two pints of lager with blackcurrant cordial, appeared “quite upset” when she first came in as she had her children taken off her and was supposed to be visiting them but was late for the appointment.
Miss Seager said in her view both women were not just on alcohol but believed “there was some kind of drug involved” adding Jodie appeared completely out of it.
PC Stuart Lyle was called to Corton Road at about 3.05pm on February 26 last year and said he saw the body of Mr Reeve, who was not wearing any foot wear, on the floor of the lounge area.
He said he noticed “bloodied footwear marks” which did not appear to match any of the other shoes in the property and contacted the control room before being instructed to ensure the area was sealed and start a crime scene lock.
The trial continues.