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Jury out in Peter Battle murder trial
A JURY has today retired to consider its verdicts, following a five-week trial into the murder of antiques dealer Peter Battle.
Graham Richardson, from Norton, denies killing Mr Battle and other charges.
Mr Justice Stephen Maler has told the jury that he can accept a verdict of murder or manslaughter against Richardson.
He said if the antique dealer died as a result of a criminal act of Richardson's such as setting him up to be robbed, the 27-year-old could be criminally responsible for the death whether or not he was present when it happened.
Richardson claims that he planned with York heroin dealer Darren Archer to rob the antiques dealer and that he saw Archer with three other hooded men run out of Mr Battle's cottage on December 30.
He claims he came across Mr Battle's body when he burgled the cottage in Full Sutton near Pocklington on January 2, believing him to be away.
The prosecution allege Richardson has made up the robbery story to cover his own murder of Mr Battle on December 30.
Summing up at Teesside Crown Court, the judge told the jury that if they decided Richardson did not murder Mr Battle they could still convict him of manslaughter as an alternative verdict if they believed he had planned the robbery.
He told them the law says a person is guilty of manslaughter if they commit an illegal act that leads to death and that any reasonable person would see that the act could lead to someone being harmed.
But the jury could only convict Richardson of manslaughter if they were sure that Mr Battle died as a result of the robbery and that he had agreed with one or more people for Mr Battle to be robbed.
The judge also reminded the jury that Archer is not charged with murder although he is standing trial with Richardson.
Richardson, of Riverside View, Norton, denies a charge of murder and maintains he is not guilty of manslaughter.
He also denies a charge of possessing Class A drugs with intent to supply them to others but admits theft of jewellery belonging to Mr Battle after his death from his cottage and a separate robbery of gold dealer Michael Cleaver on December 9 in York last year.
He claimed in the witness box that he carried out the York robbery with Archer and Peter Anthony Egan.
Archer, 43, of Nunnery Lane, South Bank, and Egan, 47, formerly of Walmgate, York, both deny the robbery of Mr Cleaver. Both claim they were not present when it was carried out. Egan claims he didn't know Richardson and the judge reminded the jury that Mr Cleaver picked out the wrong man on an identity parade containing Egan.
Archer claims his only contacts with Richardson were to sell him drugs.
The judge told the jury they must reach separate verdicts on each charge and on each defendant.
The jury has been sent home for the night and will return to court tomorrow.