A YOUNG man accused of taking part in the brutal killing of vulnerable Gemma Hayter has denied ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ to put the blame on one of his co-defendants.
Joe Boyer told a jury at Warwick Crown Court that he saw fellow defendant Duncan Edwards carry out the savage attack on Gemma on a disused Rugby railway line.
And questioned by Edwards’ barrister, he denied that it was another of the five people in the dock, Daniel Newstead, who launched the fatal attack.
Boyer, 18, and his girlfriend Jessica Lynas, 19, together with Newstead, 20, and his partner Chantelle Booth, 22, all of Old Works Court, Little Pennington Street, Rugby, and Edwards, 19, of Ashwood Court, Rounds Gardens, Rugby, have all pleaded not guilty to murdering 27-year-old Gemma.
They also deny assaulting Gemma, whose battered and naked body was found on a disused line off Hillmorton Road on August 9 last year, in the bedroom of Booth and Newstead’s flat earlier that night.
Boyer is alleged to have hit Gemma in the face with a mop and to have urinated in a lager can and made her drink it and to have then got Edwards to urinate in the can before making Gemma drink that as well.
Boyer, the fourth defendant to give evidence, denied he was involved in that and said he had remained in the living room with Lynas and did not know what was going on in the bedroom.
After that incident, during which her nose was broken, according to the prosecution by Booth headbutting her, Gemma is said to have asked Edwards and Boyer to walk her home.
But all five defendants went with her, and she was taken instead to the disused railway line.
There she was attacked again, during which she had a bin liner put over her head, was punched and kicked, stabbed to the upper back and was stripped and had her head stamped on, allegedly by a combination of the five of them.
Boyer said he and Lynas were in front as they walked along the disused track, having been told by Edwards where to go, and he said it was Edwards who then attacked Gemma, adding that he had taken no part in what went on.
As the trial moved into its sixth week Mark Wall QC, for Edwards, put to him that ‘the instructions, as and when they were given, were given by Daniel Newstead, not Duncan Edwards.’
But Boyer replied: “No, it was Duncan who was telling us where to go. Gemma had asked him to take her home. I didn’t know where she lived.”
Asked who it was who had first knocked Gemma to the floor on the railway line, he said it was Edwards.
He was asked if he would ever have said it was Booth, who was at the back of the group with Gemma, and he said: “That’s what’s in my defence statement. It’s not what I meant to say.
“Chantelle and Duncan were next to Gemma. I assumed Chantelle had done it because they had been arguing.”
Mr Wall put to him: “In your statement you said it was apparent that Chantelle Booth assaulted Gemma Hayter, knocking her to the floor.”
But Boyer responded: “It was because I saw Chantelle arguing with her before she was on the floor. I didn’t know who got her to the floor then. The first time I saw someone was when Duncan got her to the floor after putting the bag over her head.”
Mr Wall asked: “Why did you imply in your defence statement it was Chantelle Booth, and now you are telling the jury you don’t know who it was?
“It’s because, having decided to jump on the bandwagon and blame Duncan Edwards, you make a mistake in your statement by saying something about Chantelle Booth when no-one else did.
“It was not Duncan Edwards who used violence on the railway line, it was Daniel Newstead.
“The reason you have now said what you said is to get out of your involvement because you are the one who had got the knife in your flat, and you provided that knife to Daniel Newstead,” Mr Wall suggested.
Boyer replied: “No. It had been in my flat about ten days before, but it had gone after Duncan came to stay.”
Mr Wall continued: “What you are trying to do is to make sure, in jumping on the bandwagon, that you don’t make any mistakes. You have changed in relation to the knife from it being Daniel Newstead to Duncan Edwards.” Boyer repeated: “It was Duncan.”
Mr Wall also put to him that earlier he had been in the bedroom with the others, taking part in what was going on there, but Boyer maintained: “I was not in the bedroom at all that night.”
And of Gemma’s murder, he added: “I’m saying it was Duncan because it was Duncan what did it.” The trial continues.