THE partner of Barry Smith has described the moment she was told the body of the father-of-four had been found outside Kilburn Welfare Social Club.
Rowena Pearson told the jury she was woken by a friend “banging on the door” of her home in Mayfield Avenue on the morning of October 6 last year.
Miss Pearson said: ”I thought it was the police, it was like ‘bang, bang, bang, bang’ I put on my dressing gown and looked out the window.
“It was my friend Caz she was screaming and going hysterical shouting ‘there’s been a body found at the club, they think it’s Barry’.
“I laughed at her and said ‘you’ve got to be joking, it can’t be Barry’.”
Leicester Crown Court has previously been told by the prosecution that Mr Smith was beaten to death with pool cues and a fence post, dragged to a pile of rubbish and his body set alight in a “savage and merciless attack”.
Dog walkers discovered his charred remains outside the club at 8am on October 6 last year.
Vincent Aitken, 44, of Chapel Street, Kilburn, his daughter Emma Aitken, 19, and her partner Nathan Doherty, 27, both of Portland Street, Derby, all deny the murder of Mr Smith.
Aitken’s wife Pamela Aitken, 41, denies assisting an offender in relation to Mr Smith’s death.
Miss Pearson, giving evidence yesterday (Tues), said on September 28, a week before the death there had been an argument between her and Mrs Aitken over an offensive term.
She told the court: “I had been in the club and was looking for Barry.
“He was sat quietly in the corner of the main room on his own, he was crying.
“I went over to him and said ‘whatever is the matter Barry?’ and he said ‘I’m sick of Pam keeping on calling me a pikey’ so I said to him ‘I am going to have it out with her’.
“I went over to her, she was behind the bar, and I said ‘look Pam, please can you stop calling Barry a pikey? He doesn’t like it, it’s a racist term to him’.
“She swore at me and I swore back and she stormed off.”
As Mr and Mrs Aitken were the steward and stewardess of the club Ms Pearson said she wrote to the committee of the social club to report the matter and received a reply saying it would look into the allegation.
The court was told that Mrs Aitken quite her role before the committee meeting but Mr Aitken was kept on.
Miss Pearson said on the morning of the discovery of Mr Smith’s body she went to the club to find the police had cordoned off the scene.
She said: “I was just in a daze, I saw Vinny (Aitken) and he was like an animal in a cage prowling up and down the (police) tape.
“He was sweating, agitated and I said to him ‘tell me it’s not Barry’.
“He said he had seen a pair of trousers on the ground and I asked him what they were like.
“When he told me I knew it was Barry.
“Vinny put his arms around me and said ‘I am so sorry for your loss’.”
Caroline Peake, a committee member at the club, told the jury she had witnessed the argument on September 28 between Miss Pearson and Mrs Aitken.
She said: “I was outside the club and a friend came out and said ‘you better come inside, it’s all kicking off’.
“Pam was shouting at Rowena and Rowena was saying back to her ‘why are you being so abusive to my partner?’
“It was out of character for Rowena, but she was fighting her corner for Barry.”
Ms Peake also said she saw Mr Smith on the night of the argument.
She said: “He was distraught, you could tell how upset he was.”
Asked in cross-examination by Matthew Donkin QC, for Mrs Aitken, if she thought his client was not “part of the clique” at the social club, Ms Peake replied: “Pam did not get on with many people, she kept herself on the outside, it was her choice whether or not to shut herself off or join in.”
Timothy Houseman, a fellow committee member and former partner of Ms Peake, said he saw the aftermath of the argument between Miss Pearson and Mrs Aitken a week before Mr Smith’s death.
He told the court: “I was outside the club having a smoke and could hear shouting from inside.
“I went in and there was an argument between Rowena and Pam.
“Pam stormed upstairs and on the way she slung a chair.
“She picked up a chair and slung it into the darts room.”
Chelsea Marshall, the teenage daughter of Ms Peake, told the trial that she witnessed Mrs Aitken call Mr Smith ‘a pikey’ on September 28 and said she later saw him crying in the club.
She then said she was in the club on the evening before Mr Smith’s body was found in the grounds of the club.
She said she went outside the club for a cigarette at around 10pm.
Miss Marshall said: “Emma and Nathan were outside. During their conversation In heard them say whoever had upset Pam was going to get it real bad.”
Asked my Michael Auty QC, prosecuting, who she thought that might refer to, Miss Marshall replied: “Barry.”
Mr Smith, previously described by his family as “a proud gypsy” had lived in Kilburn for six years.
He lived in Mayfield Avenue with Miss Pearson and his cause of death was multiple injuries.
Mr Smith was a father to daughter Billy-Jo, 23, Barrie-John, 20, Luke, 19, and Nathan, 16.
He also had three grandchildren – Josephine-Star, two, Selina-Louise, one, and eight-month-old Arlie-John.
The trial continues.