‘Beaten to death with pool cues’

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FATHER-OF-FOUR Barry Smith was beaten to death with a fence post dragged to a pile of rubbish and his body set alight, a court has been told.

The “savage and merciless attack” was so vicious that shattered remnants of pool cues that the prosecution say were used during the assault, were found close to his burnt body.

Dog walkers discovered the charred remains of the 48-year-old outside Kilburn Welfare Social Club at 8am on October 6 last year, the jury were told.

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.

In is opening speech Michael Auty QC, prosecuting, said: “It was a massive and brutal attack, he literally had his face smashed in.

“He had, in short, been beaten to death.

“Burns of varying thicknesses were present to his face, neck, both arms and the front of his torso.

“The prosecution’s allegation is that the three defendants charged with murder acted together as part of what lawyers call a joint-enterprise, but what might easily be called ‘a pact’ to attack and murder Barry Smith.”

Mr Auty said the killing stemmed from an argument a week before Mr Smith’s death which had led to Mrs Aitken resigning her post as the stewardess of the club.

He said that event, on September 28, saw Mr Smith, who comes from the travelling community, in the club with his partner Rowena Pearson where Mrs Aitken was working behind the bar.

Mr Auty said: “What upset Barry Smith was Pamela Aitken referring to him as ‘a pikey’ a term that you will all readily appreciate is a term that upset him considerably.

“It is seen as a derogatory and, many would say, racist expression for a member of the travelling community.”

Mr Auty said a week later, on the evening of October 5, Mr Smith was in the club with his close friend Lee Keeling.

He said Mr Keeling left at 1.30am in the early hours of October 6, leaving Mr Smith alone with Mr Aitken, Emma Aitken and Doherty.

Mr Auty said: “What is not entirely clear is whether Mr Smith was attacked inside the club or immediately outside the front door.

“Some of the weapons used on him were pool cues hence their absence on the rack (inside the club).

“The most destructive weapon was a large post.

“The prosecution say that either unconscious or extremely close to it he was dragged from the car park to a piece of land next to a sports field where he was attacked more and his body dumped and set alight.”

Mr Auty said the trial will hear evidence from one of Mrs Aitken’s sons from a previous relationship, Callum Bollington, who, along with his girlfriend lived in a caravan outside Kilburn Social Club.

He said the pair heard “the sound of breaking wood” outside and looked through their blinds where Emma Aitken was shouting at Doherty.

Mr Auty said: “It was around 3am and Callum Bollington peered out the blinds where he saw Barry Smith sitting upright on the floor.

“Emma Aitken was standing over him while Vincent Aitken was pushing Nathan Doherty back.

“Mr Bollington saw Emma Aitken punch Mr Smith to his face while his girlfriend, Demi Lee said she saw Emma hitting him for between three and five minutes.”

The jury of seven women and five men at Leicester Crown Court were told shown a DVD of CCTV footage put together by Derbyshire Police.

It showed, Mr Auty said, Emma Aitken and Doherty being driven back to their flat in Portland Street, Pear Tree.

The film shows them both get out of the Ford Mondeo carrying a large bag which, Mr Auty said, the prosecution claim contains petrol-soaked clothing belonging to Vincent Aitken.

After 20 minutes of arguing outside the pair then set alight to the bag in the communal garden of the block of flats.

Mr Auty said: “A neighbour, Sahira Azam, was woken by the noise and recorded footage on her iPhone.

“She says she hears Doherty say ‘I’ve killed him, I’ve killed him’ and the voice of who we say is Emma Aitken, respond by saying ‘It was not just you, it was the three of us, my Dad was there too’.

“The footage then shows moving images of Doherty seemingly stamping out the fire but we say that is, in actual fact, him reliving how he stamped on Mr Smith’s head.

Mr Auty told the court scientific evidence showed Mr Smith head had been compressed 4-5cm into the ground as a result of either being stamped on or his face smashed with the wooden bar.

Mr Smith’s blood was also found on the sole of a pair of shoes recovered from the Portland Street flat where Doherty and Emma Aitken live.

And he said Mr Smith’s mobile phone, its battery and his cigarette lighter were found in the pocket of a jacket owned by Vincent Aitken.

All four defendants were interviewed a number of times following their events.

In her third interview Pamela Aitken told police her husband had “taken Barry to the field and that he was sorry,” Mr Auty said.

And in his final, and fifth interviews, Mr Auty said Doherty said he saw Mr Smith lying on the floor of the car park at the social club and claimed he “tried to put him in the recovery position.”

Mr Auty, closing his speech, told the jury: “It went beyond something started as a relatively modest assault.

“This was cold, brutal and chilling, and culminated in an attack so savage it cost Barry Smith his life.

“Barry Smith was murdered, he was murdered and he could only have been murdered by three people.

“No doubt one of them will say it might have been two of them, but the prosecution say this is a joint-enterprise , that they shared culpability between them to cause that man really serious harm.”

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.

His former wife, children and members of Mr Smith’s family were in court to hear the harrowing details of the prosecution’s case, having travelled from their homes in South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

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, which is expected to last up to five weeks, continues.