Great Yarmouth man found guilty of murder

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 Great Yarmouth man has been found guilty of murdering a 22-year-old, whose body was found in a river.

Sean Palmer was one of three people found guilty by a jury of the murder of Ipswich man Joe Pooley.

Palmer, 30, of South Market Road in Yarmouth was convicted of Mr Pooley's murder, as was Sebastian Smith, 35, of no fixed address and Becki West-Davidson, 30, of Rope Walk, Ipswich.

The jury at Ipswich Crown Court had deliberated for 59 hours following the trial, before giving their majority verdict.

A fourth defendant, Lisa-Marie Smith, was unanimously cleared of murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

Mr Pooley's body was found in the River Gipping in Ipswich by a dog walker at about 10.30am on August 13, 2018.

The likely cause of his death was later established to have been immersion in water.

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The two men and two women had been accused of ganging up and murdering him on or before August 7.

They had all denied murder and manslaughter during the trial, which took place across two courtrooms due to Covid-19 protocol.

During the trial, which began in October last year, prosecution counsel Christopher Paxton QC alleged each defendant had a role to play in events that led to the death of Mr Pooley, who had been under the wing of adult social care and was considered to be “vulnerable, trusting of others and easily taken advantage of”.

He said West-Davidson’s anger with Mr Pooley, over comments he was said to have made about her and Lisa-Marie Smith, “stoked up hostility towards him”.

Mr Paxton said West-Davidson had encouraged Sebastian Smith and Palmer to attack Mr Pooley and cause his body to end up in the river.

Palmer, West-Davidson and Lisa-Marie Smith all chose not to give evidence during the trial.

Simon Spence QC, representing Palmer, had suggested to the jury that Mr Pooley could have fallen into the river, swam for a short time and then drowned.

Judge Levett praised the jury for being diligent, meticulous, thorough, hard-working and unflagging.

Sentencing of the convicted trio will take place on May 24.

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