Full Sutton murder: Robbery accused denies murder

Gazette & Herald: Peter Battle Peter Battle

AN accused robber has denied being the “master criminal” behind the murder of antiques dealer Peter Battle.

Denying claims he had stabbed the victim, Darren Archer told the jury at Teesside Crown Court he would “not treat a dog” the way Mr Battle had suffered.

The body of Mr Battle, 56, was found in February, five weeks after he was killed at his cottage at Full Sutton, near Pocklington.

The prosecution’s case is Mr Battle was murdered by Graham Richardson who then plundered the house of valuables.

But Richardson claims he found Mr Battle dead after seeing Archer and three masked accomplices flee the cottage. Richardson alone is on trial for Mr Battle’s murder and the Crown said yesterday there was nothing in its case to link Archer with the Full Sutton attack.

But Archer is accused of being involved with Richardson in a previous robbery of another gold collector, Michael Cleaver, in York, just weeks before the murder.

Nicholas Lumley, prosecuting, claimed Richardson had targeted Cleaver and said Archer went along with the idea “because it was a chance to make some easy money”.But heroin dealer Archer claimed Richardson only contacted him to buy drugs and – in one series of text messages – to help Richardson sell LSD.

“I only knew him as a customer,” he told the jury – adding that he now wished Richardson was a customer he had never met.

Barrister Simon Csoka, for Richardson, claimed a gap in text messages sent by Archer around the time of the robbery suggested Archer was then using a separate phone to avoid calls from his own mobile being linked to the crime.

Mr Csoka maintained 5ft 3ins tall Archer needed a knife to protect himself and it was him who had stabbed Mr Battle who had been left to die on the floor of his cottage.

Archer denied all the claims, adding: “I would not leave a dog like that.

“I would not do that to another human being. I would not do that to a pet. I have a conscience.”

Re-examining Archer, Mr Lumley said: “You are being portrayed as some sort of master criminal who organised this thing.”

But Archer denied meeting up with Richardson to plot the robbery of Mr Battle after the robbery of Mr Cleaver, in which he also denies taking part.

He maintained he had not been in Full Sutton since buying a spare part for a car from a local scrapyard 12 years previously.

Richardson, 27, of Riverside View, Norton, denies murdering Mr Battle.

Archer, 43, of Nunnery Lane, and his cousin Peter Egan, 47, formerly of Walmgate, both York, deny robbing Mr Cleaver.

The trial continues.

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