Full Sutton murder: Accused's 'shock at body find'

Gazette & Herald: Peter Battle Peter Battle

AN alleged murderer has claimed he saw four masked men running out of the cottage where police later found a battered body.

Graham Richardson denied that he killed antiques dealer Peter Battle last December, but told a jury he felt partly to blame because he had set up the dead man to be robbed.

Richardson said he felt sick when he burgled Mr Battle’s Full Sutton home near Pocklington some days after encountering the men, and found the body.

He said he was so shocked by the discovery he ran out without taking anything. He claimed he took heroin on the way home to Norton and in the days that followed to take his mind off it.

He admitted going twice more to the cottage to steal the antique dealer’s property before police found the body on February 7.

Richardson, 27, of Riverside View, Norton, denies murder and possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply them, but admits theft of Mr Battle’s property and the robbery of gold dealer Michael Cleaver three weeks before the prosecution allege Mr Battle was killed.

Asked by defence barrister Simon Csoka if he killed Mr Battle, he said: “No, not at all, no.”

Giving evidence at Teesside Crown Court, Richardson said Darren Archer, 43, of Nunnery Lane, York, asked him if he knew of someone else they could rob after they had, together with Archer’s cousin Peter Egan, robbed Mr Cleaver on December 9 in York.

Archer and Egan, 48, then of Walmgate, York, both deny the York robbery and neither has been charged with any offence connected to Mr Battle.

Richardson claimed he suggested Mr Battle should be robbed. He said the plan was for Archer to carry out the robbery and give Richardson a quarter of the proceeds and that to avoid suspicion, Richardson would arrive at the cottage later to do a jewellery deal.

“I could show sympathy to him,” said Richardson.

He said he arrived at Full Sutton shortly after 2pm on December 30, thinking the robbery had happened earlier that day, and parked opposite Mr Battle’s house.

As he crossed the road he saw four masked men running out and heard Archer cry: “Let’s go.” He ran with them to their car round the corner. “He (Archer) said don’t mention anything about this, I’ll give you this, and threw a bag to me.”

Richardson said he was so shocked he didn’t go into the cottage but went home. The next day, he sold jewellery that was in the bag he had been given before going back to Full Sutton, where he found a note on Mr Battle’s door, saying he was away until January 7.

Thinking the antique dealer was so shaken by the robbery he had gone to stay with relatives or friends, he returned after dark on January 2 to burgle the cottage. The front door was unlocked and he went in. The light was on.

“I noticed there was blood spattered on the wall and on some items, then I noticed a lump on the floor. It turned out to be Peter,” Richardson told the jury.

He saw the dead man had a head injury and felt cold. “I was going to run. I felt sick, I didn’t know what to do. I was just in shock.”

He said he ran out of the house and drove off, but he was shaking so much he couldn’t drive, so he pulled into a lay-by and had some heroin to calm down.

“All I could think of was, this is because of the robbery, so I was partly to blame.”

He said he was too scared to tell police and didn’t know what to do.

He went back to the house three times, once to change the note on the front door to January 27 to give him more time to think and twice to steal items from Mr Battle’s bedroom.

Asked by Mr Csoka if he thought the robbery would end in death, he replied: “I hesitate to say he was an easy target. I didn’t think he would put up any resistance at all. I didn’t think any violence would be used.”

Earlier he had said he was addicted to heroin at the time of the robbery and murder and denied that he was being pressed by Chinese drug dealers to pay for legal highs he had bought from them.

He said he believed Class A drugs seized by police on December 10 at his home were legal.

He also claimed the robbery of Mr Cleaver had been Archer’s idea and claimed his role had been to set Mr Cleaver up and act as driver for Archer and Egan.

The trial continues.

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