ONE of the five people accused of murdering vulnerable Rugby woman Gemma Hayter told the police she had tried to help Gemma as another defendant launched a savage attack on her.
And Chantelle Booth claimed she had not gone to the police about it because Duncan Edwards had threatened to do the same to her if she did, a jury at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Booth (22) and her partner Daniel Newstead (20) both of Old Works Court, Little Pennington Street, Rugby, together with Joe Boyer (18) and Jessica Lynas (19) also of Old Works Court, and Edwards (19) of Ashwood Court, Rounds Gardens, have all denied murdering Gemma on August 9 last year.
The 27-year-old’s naked and badly-beaten body was found on a disused railway line between Hillmorton Road and Pytchley Road in Rugby at around 5.30 that morning.
All five have also denied assaulting Gemma in Booth and Newstead’s flat the previous night, causing actual bodily harm.
Booth and Newstead were arrested two days after the killing, and at first Booth claimed they had left Gemma, who she said was drunk, in Hillmorton Road.
But the jury heard that in a tearful interview with the police she then admitted: “That is not accurate. I got told to lie for Duncan.”
Asked what had happened on the railway line, Booth told officers: “We were walking with Gemma and Jess (Lynas) and Gemma fell to the floor and I helped her up. We kept walking.”
Booth then alleged: “Duncan put a bin bag over Gemma’s head and she fell to the floor. He dragged her across the stones, and then he took her clothes off.
“I was screaming, and she was screaming, and he started kicking her to the head. Then silence from her.
“I said I needed to get an ambulance and everything. He said she deserved what she had got, and if I went to the police he would do the same the same thing to me.”
Of the other defendants, Booth told the officers: “Daniel was stood there. Jess was sick. I tried to help Gemma, but Duncan pushed me away. There was blood pouring out of her neck at the back.
“He burnt her clothes and then he chucked something into the bushes. He told me to walk, but I wouldn’t leave her and tried to help her, but he kept pushing me.”
She said they all left, but that she was ‘sick all the way home,’ where Edwards also spent the night and, she claimed, ‘said that if we went to the police we’d get the same treatment’.
“He told us to say to you that we left her near the garage, but I need to tell the truth because she was a mate.”
Questioned further, Booth said they had gone to the disused railway line because Edwards had insisted it was the quickest way back to Gemma’s flat as they walked her home.
She asserted Edwards was ‘acting really weird,’ and that after he had put the bag over Gemma’s head and began to drag her along, Gemma had managed to rip the bag off.
Booth said that after he had pulled Gemma’s top off her he ‘started punching her in her head’ as Gemma continued screaming.
He pulled her trousers down and continued punching her, said Booth, who continued: “He obviously punched her in the nose, and her nose was p*****g blood. He punched her several times to the face and then he kicked her to the head from the side.
“I said to Duncan ‘just leave her alone,’ but he said ‘if you don’t shut up I’ll do the same to you,’ and then he started hitting her again.
“She was crying, and that. She was not dead. He put her stuff on the floor. He said he was going to burn it. Joe is laughing. Daniel says he’s going, but Duncan says ‘if you do, you’ll get the same treatment.’
Booth denied taking part in the attack, but the jury has heard evidence from Laura Rowley who said she had been told by Lynas that during the attack Edwards had stabbed Gemma twice in the neck.
And she said Lynas told her that after that, while Gemma was on the floor, ‘Chantelle stamped all over her face.’
Miss Rowley also said that earlier that night Newstead had called to her to go up to their flat where, she said, Booth told her she had headbutted Gemma, whose nose was bleeding.
The jury was shown a series of CCTV recordings which showed the five defendants walking into Rugby town centre at just after midnight, with hoodies, caps or scarves pulled over their faces, and with Gemma tagging along behind.
A number of recordings, which Dc Tom Moore said the police had recovered from various sources including blocks of flats, the town centre CCTV system, the Total garage near the railway line and even a private house in Hillmorton Road, charted their route to the railway line.
And the same cameras, with others, showed their return journey, minus Gemma, with Booth and Newstead lagging some way behind the other three.
Further recordings from Rugby railway station showed the five together again the following day turning up and waiting for a train to Coventry or Birmingham and then returning, still together, late that night.
The trial continues.’