Driver 'wrote shopping list for a murder'

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The Independent Online
THE MAN accused of killing Matthew and Alison Manwaring wrote a 'shopping list' of instruments he needed to commit the murders, an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday.

Michael Stuart-Moore QC, for the prosecution, said that the list mentioned handcuffs, gloves, black bags and 'bag for pa', which could refer to a pump-action shotgun. 'The person who carried out these murders used such a gun. We know the murderer also used handcuffs and would need plastic bags,' he said.

Mr Stuart-Moore said it was 'highly probable' that Benjamin Laing, 25, a delivery driver from East Ham, east London, wrote the list. The Crown alleges that he shot Mr Manwaring, 62, at his home in Barking, east London, on 23 April last year, and strangled Ms Manwaring, 24, to steal a car they had advertised. Mr Laing denies the charges.

Mr Stuart-Moore said that two months after the murder, police found the list in a bag of items stolen from the Manwaring home. Mr Laing's fingerprints were on an empty box of plastic gloves and a cheque signed by Ms Manwaring. The bag matched ones used to wrap the Manwarings' dismembered bodies.

The police also found a blue exercise book, which was a 'master plan for murder', at Mr Laing's home, he said. Under the headings 'for' and 'against' Mr Laing contemplated stealing a car and killing the owner. The accused considered staging a suicide by sealing the victim in a carbon monoxide-filled van.

'Let owner call a 'friend' from van on mobile phone - have not decided if just owner or family will be in van,' he wrote.

Mr Stuart-Moore told the jury that Mr Laing rejected this idea, preferring instead to make it appear that the owner had gone away for a few days because he needed time to sell the car. 'It is almost inconceivable that anyone could conceive of such a plan - and yet it does appear Laing wrote down his ideas and adapted them. What he thought of, he put into action when he killed the Manwarings,' he said.

He added that Mr Laing had approached three other people selling expensive cars in his 'quest for a suitable victim' before he met Mr Manwaring.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.