NEWS UPDATE: Gemma Hayter trial

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A DEFENDANT in the Gemma Hayter murder trial has given a detailed account of what happened to Gemma in the final hours of her life.

Chantelle Booth and four others are alleged to have murdered Gemma in August last year. Booth told a jury at Warwick Crown Court: “I did not touch Gemma that night.” However, Booth did described how Gemma was made to drink urine before being beaten to death by the other defendants.

Booth, 22, and her partner Daniel Newstead, 20, together with another couple, Jessica Lynas, 19, and Joe Boyer, 18, all of Old Works Court, Little Pennington Street, Rugby, and Duncan Edwards, 19, of Ashwood Court, Rounds Gardens, Rugby, have pleaded not guilty. They also deny assaulting Gemma, whose battered body was found on a disused railway line off Hillmorton Road on August 9 last year, in Booth and Newstead’s flat earlier that night.

Questioned by her barrister Christopher Millington QC, Booth accepted she had been involved in a dispute with Gemma over money. She said that £800 in back-dated tax credit had gone missing from her purse and, after initially denying it, Gemma admitted that she had taken ‘a little bit’.

“That was about a year before July last year. I said she could pay me bit by bit. She only paid me three times. I asked from time to time, but she said no, she didn’t have it.”

On the Sunday she told the court she invited Lynas and Boyer to join her and Newstead for Sunday dinner, and they turned up with Edwards as well, and that “Joe and Duncan were smoking weed, cannabis”.

She said Gemma came to the flat after they had texted each-other and she had gone out to meet her, and Gemma went straight to the kitchen to make a drink. Asked if any unpleasantness started, Booth said: “Yes. Duncan was calling her fat. She got really upset. She broke down in tears. I took her into the bedroom to comfort her.

“I had asked her if she had a little bit of money, but I know I should not have done it in front of everyone else.

“Duncan came in. He got a mop and he hit Gemma across the head, to the side of her face. It was a full-on smack. She was upset and crying. He tried to hit her a second time. I got in the way, but he got over me and made contact anyway.

“There was loads more happened. Joe came in with a can of lager someone had urinated in and made Gemma drink it.

“There was plenty more violence. Duncan again, just hitting her and hitting her again, kicking her and punching her.

“I helped her up and took her to the en-suite and told her to lock herself in. Duncan got a knife and managed to unlock it from the outside. He grabbed her head and rammed it down and her nose hit the handle. Her nose was bleeding, and Duncan was hitting her again.”

Asked if she had tried to stop him, Booth said: “I couldn’t. He’s bigger than me and I’m a bit scared of him.

“She wanted to call the police, and I can’t remember if it was Duncan or Joe got the battery from her phone and put it down the toilet. My phone was took off me by Duncan.”

It has been alleged that Booth headbutted Gemma during the incident in the flat, but she insisted: “I did not touch Gemma that night. I would not do something like that.”

She said Edwards told her to shut up when she spoke of getting an ambulance, and then said he was going to take Gemma home and that they should all go with him, with the disused rail line being the quickest route.

On the railway line she said she had a text on her phone from a friend, and showed it to Gemma before replying.

“I replied, and then Duncan comes with a bin bag and put it over Gemma’s head. She was screaming and trying to get the bag off. I were trying to push him away, but I’m that small he pushed me away.

“She managed to get the bag off. Then he started punching her and things in her head, and kicking her. She was screaming and telling him to ‘get off, get off, get off.’

“I tried to get him off her, but I couldn’t do anything. I was scared. She was on the floor. He dragged her to the grassy part. Her top came off, her trousers as well.

“He was hitting her and hitting her, full-on. I told him to leave her alone. He told me to shut up ‘or the same will happen to you.’”

Booth said Edwards burned Gemma’s clothes, and his hair was singed when an aerosol can with them exploded, and as the attack by Edwards continued Newstead tried to push her and Lynas away.

She continued: “Gemma was screaming, and then the next moment there was nothing at all, so I ran up to her. Daniel stamped on her head a couple of times.

“She was not breathing. I wanted to get help, but I was scared. I thought she was dead.”

The trial continues.