Yarmouth man sentenced to 18 years after murder

Sean Palmer, Sebastian Smith and Becki West-Davidson

Sean Palmer, Sebastian Smith and Becki West-Davidson, who were convicted of murdering Ipswich man Joe Pooley - Credit: Suffolk Police

A Great Yarmouth man has been sentenced for life in prison after the murder of a man whose body was found in a river. 

Sean Palmer, 30, of South Market Road, had been convicted of murder by majority verdicts by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court in March after a four month trial. 

He was sentenced for a minimum term of 18 years on Monday for the killing of Ipswich man Joe Pooley. 

Ipswich Crown Court heard Palmer had held the victim's head down and drowned him in the River Gipping in Suffolk.

Palmer left court during the sentencing and was sentenced in his absence.

Simon Spence, QC for Palmer, said his client had left court because he had a medical appointment he was anxious not to miss.

He said drink and drugs had been a continuous feature of Palmer’s life prior to the killing.

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Sebastian Smith, of no fixed address, and Becki West-Davidson, 30, of Rope Walk, Ipswich, were also convicted of murder.

Earlier in a victim statement read to the court Mr Pooley's mother Samantha Nicholls described her 22-year-old son, who was autistic and had learning difficulties, as “vulnerable”.

Addressing his killers directly across the courtroom, she said they had robbed her of a future with her son.

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

And she told Palmer he was a “violent bully”.

She added: “You had choices that night and you made the wrong ones. You will have to live with the knowledge of what happened.”

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

A post-mortem examination found the likely cause of death was immersion in water.

The defendants were accused of ganging up and murdering the 22-year-old on or before August 7.

During the trial the court heard Mr Pooley, who was living at the Kingsley House Hotel in Ipswich, had been under the wing of adult social care and was considered to be “vulnerable, trusting of others and easily taken advantage of”.

Christopher Paxton, prosecuting, 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”.

He said West-Davidson, who had had a sexual relationship with Mr Pooley, had encouraged Smith and Palmer to attack him.