Murder accused told mother ‘I held his head under water’, court hears

Joe Pooley, from Ipswich, who was found in the River Gipping Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Joe Pooley, from Ipswich, who was found in the River Gipping Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk man accused of murdering a 22-year-old whose body was found in a river confessed to his mother that he had “held his head down under the water,” a court heard.

Body has had been discovered in the River Gipping near London Road, Ipswich Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Body has had been discovered in the River Gipping near London Road, Ipswich Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

Christopher Paxton QC, prosecuting, told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday (October 19) that Great Yarmouth man Sean Palmer’s mother had initially refused to believe what her son had told her but then could not live with him any more knowing what he had done.

She had subsequently spoken to a police officer and repeated her son’s alleged confession about holding Joe Pooley’s head under water in the River Gipping.

“If you hold somebody’s head under water it is clear evidence that you intend to kill them or intend them really serious injury,” said Mr Paxton.

During a police interview following his arrest Palmer, from South Market Road in Great Yarmouth, said his mother was an alcoholic and had told the police about his alleged confession because she wanted him removed from her home after he had an argument with a man at her house.


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Palmer, 30, denied any knowledge of or involvement in Mr Pooley’s death.

He told police he felt responsible for Mr Pooley’s death because he was with him on the night of his death with his co-defendant Sebastian Smith at a flat in Yeoman Close in Ipswich and they had been drinking alcohol and smoking weed.

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He claimed Mr Pooley had passed out in the flat and he and Smith had agreed to take him home.

He claimed that Smith had suddenly stamped on Mr Pooley’s head a couple of times and had then “rolled him in the river”.

Mr Paxton said Palmer accepted he was at the riverside when Sebastian Smith attacked Mr Pooley but claimed he had not assaulted him or put him in the river.

“Even on his own account in this interview, Sean Palmer did nothing to help Joe Pooley when he was rolled into the water or during the assault.”

Mr Paxton alleged that Palmer had done more than just stand and watch Mr Pooley be murdered.

MORE: Murder accused ‘bullied and ganged up’ on autistic man found dead in river, court hearsPalmer and his co-accused Smith, 35, of no fixed address, Becki West-Davidson, 30, of Rope Walk, Ipswich, and Lisa-Marie Smith, 26, of Hawick, Roxburghshire have all denied murdering Mr Pooley on or before August 7, 2018.

The court has heard that Mr Pooley had autism and was considered to be “vulnerable, trusting of others and easily taken advantage of”.

Mr Paxton has alleged that West-Davidson, who had a sexual relationship with Mr Pooley, had been angry with Mr Pooley over comments he was said to have made about her and Lisa-Marie Smith and had “stoked up hostility towards him”.

He claimed that Sebastian Smith and Palmer had attacked Mr Pooley and thrown his body in the River Gipping after Sebastian Smith’s then girlfriend, Lisa-Marie Smith, lured Mr Pooley from his address at the Kingsley House Hotel, in London Road, knowing he was going to be attacked, or at the very least “given a serious beating”.

He claimed that following the discovery of Mr Pooley’s body, Palmer told his then girlfriend that Sebastian Smith had punched Mr Pooley and he had helped put him in the river.

Mr Paxton claimed West-Davidson “tried to cover up” the alleged murder by deleting a number of Facebook messages, including one in which Mr Pooley asked her to “call off the hit” and another telling Mr Pooley “you’re f****d, mate”.

He said that although West-Davidson had expressed love for Mr Pooley she had fallen into a rage after learning about comments he’d allegedly made about her children.

The trial continues.

MORE: Norfolk man’s murder co-accused ‘bragged about killing’, court told

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