April 24 2014 Latest news:
Monday, February 10, 2014
The judge has started summing up in the long-running trial involving members of a West Norfolk family, who are accused of kidnapping and beating a man and his pregnant partner, and he told the jury they must consider each case separately against the defendants.
Norwich Crown Court has heard how trouble flared after the death of Gertrude Frankham, in December 2012, at her home, in Walpole St Andrew.
It is alleged the woman, who was heavily pregnant and her partner were kidnapped on separate occasions and assaulted so she made a false confession that her partner had smothered the grandmother with a pillow and had been stealing from her.
Five defendants have already admitted their part in what happened to the couple but other family members, who have denied any involvement, have been on trial for the past six weeks.
In his summing up, Judge Stephen Holt told the jury it was for them to decide matters of fact in the case and said the burden of proof was on the prosecution: “The defendants do not have to prove their innocence. The burden of proof is with the prosection.”
He added: “You must consider each count separately against each defendant.”
Judge Holt said because various members of the extended family had pleaded guilty to different offences it did not have any bearing on whether or not the defendants in this trial were involved.
“The fact a member of the extended family has pleaded guilty to say kidnap or false imprisonment is evidence that these criminal offences took place, not evidence that any defendant in this trial was a part of it.”
He added: “The prosecution case is that these defendants committed these offences together with those that have pleaded guilty.”
Judge Holt said the prosecution case was that the defendants on trial were part of a joint enterprise, but said: “Mere presence at the scene of a crime is not enough to prove guilt however.”
The judge is expected to continue with his summing up before sending the jury out to retire.
The other family members who are on trial are Violet Chilton, 57, of Dades Lane, Wisbech, who denies blackmail, false imprisonment and wounding with intent, Edward Dolan, jnr, 18, of Flower Farm Bungalow, Walpole, who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent, Thomas Chilton, 29 of Dades Lane, who denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent and Jason Chilton, 27, of Dades Lane, who denies kidnap and false imprisonment.
Also in the dock are Vanessa Frankham. 48, of Wisbech Road,Walpole St Andrew, who denies kidnap, blackmail, wounding with intent and robbery.
Diane Evans, 18, of Cherry Road, Wisbech, denies one count of false imprisonment and a 17 year-old denies kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.