Martin burglary case suspect flees court

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A man accused of plotting to burgle the house of the jailed farmer Tony Martin three months before Fred Barras was shot, ran away from court and hid in bushes moments before he was due in court.

A man accused of plotting to burgle the house of the jailed farmer Tony Martin three months before Fred Barras was shot, ran away from court and hid in bushes moments before he was due in court.

Christopher Webster, 40, arrived at Norwich Crown Court to answer a charge of conspiracy to burgle the property but when his case was called he did not come into the court room. Ian James, for the prosecution, said: "Mr Webster was at court earlier but since that time he has left the building. He was understood to be hiding in a shrubbery and whether he is still there I know not. He has absented himself."

Judge Paul Downes issued an arrest warrant and said: "He has done this plainly in the full glare of media interest. Perhaps someone can go and get him from the shrubbery. Obviously he is not hiding very well."

Mr Webster's barrister, Neil Fitzgibbon, suggested someone should be sent to "have a rummage around to try and find him in the shrubbery". An hour later Mr James reported there was no sign of Mr Webster, who was not immediately detained when first spotted in the shrubbery, as there was no police officer around.

Mr Webster is charged with conspiracy to burgle Martin's home three months before the raid on his property in which Fred Barras, 16, was shot dead. Martin is serving a life sentence for murdering Barras. He also shot and wounded Barras's accomplice, Brendan Fearon.

Martin's conviction caused an outcry and an appeal is being prepared which is expected to be heard before the end of the year.

The trial heard that there had been several burglaries at the farm, Bleak House, in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, before the raid in which Barras died. Martin said he had lost confidence in the police and felt they were not doing enough to protect him.