A self-confessed burglar accused of murdering a mother of five while she tended her horses in a New Forest field laughed and joked in court as he admitted he was a criminal but denied stabbing Pennie Davis to death.
Justin Robertson, who was allegedly hired to kill Ms Davis by her stepson and a friend for a fee of £1,500, told Winchester Crown Court he had “definitely not” conspired to murder the 47-year-old supermarket worker.
She was found dead in a field in Hampshire last September, and Mr Robertson was traced by police after he dropped a set of car keys at the scene at Leygreen Farm near Beaulieu, the court heard. But he told the jury yesterday that he had gone to the farm on the day of her death because he intended to burgle a neighbouring house, not to carry out a murder.
Asked by his defence counsel, Rupert Pardoe QC, how he drove to the Beaulieu area, Mr Robertson joked: “With my arms and legs.” He then admitted he had driven to the farm in a car belonging to Samantha Maclean – who is accused of hiring Mr Robertson as a hitman, along with her friend Benjamin Carr, whose father had been in a six-year relationship with Ms Davis until 2012.
Asked why he had not burgled the property, Mr Robertson said: “A man came out from the house. I heard him coming out then it was time for me to go.” He said he had hidden the car key inside the vehicle but it was missing when he returned, and he said he did not know how it ended up in the field.
When asked if he knew the Beaulieu area, the 36-year-old, of no fixed abode, described it as a “posh area” which he had previously targeted for his crimes. “I robbed a butcher’s shop out there, I robbed a clothes shop,” he said. “It was rich people who didn’t know how to protect it but I only steal things they could claim on their insurance so it didn’t cost them.”
The jury heard an “ethos” Mr Robertson had written down, which read: “Theft I love it, drugs I love it, murder I hate it. I steal money, I don’t harm people, I have never hurt a woman, never carried an offensive weapon.” Mr Robertson admitted he knew Mr Carr but only through drug deals, saying he knew nothing about Ms Davis until he was arrested. He added that he had regular mobile-phone contact with Mr Carr because the 22-year-old from Southampton owed him money.
Earlier Mr Robertson had said he owned a “beat the boss” mobile phone, which he explained was small enough to be smuggled into a prison between someone’s buttocks. Asked if it was difficult to use the small keys on the phone, Robertson laughed as he replied: “It’s a pain in the arse, literally.”
The court had been told by prosecuting barrister Richard Smith QC that Mr Carr had a “lasting hate and anger” towards Ms Davis after she made sexual assault allegations against him when he was 14. Mr Smith said she had posted a message on Facebook a few days before her death saying she was going to repeat the allegations to police.
Mr Robertson denies murder and conspiracy to murder. Mr Carr and Ms Maclean, 28, from Hythe, deny conspiracy to murder. The case continues.Reuse content