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Faked letter 'proves guilt of double killer'

THE MURDERER of Matthew and Alison Manwaring sent a faked letter, a week after he had killed and dismembered them, claiming they had gone away for a while, an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday.

Michael Stuart-Moore QC, for the prosecution, told the jury the letter was supposedly written by Ms Manwaring to her brother Mark, stating she had taken her father away to recover from their joint depression. He said the contents of the letter identified Benjamin Laing, 25, a delivery driver from East Ham, east London, as its author, and the killer of the Manwarings. The Crown alleges he shot Mr Manwaring, 62, at his home in Barking, east London, on 23 April last year and strangled Ms Manwaring, 24, to steal the car they had advertised for sale. He denies the charges.

Mr Stuart-Moore said the murderer wrote the letter to convince the Manwaring family 'all was well' because he needed time to sell the stolen car and withdraw money from Ms Manwaring's bank account. The type-written letter described Mr Manwaring falling over in a drunken stupor and cutting his chest on the night of the murder. 'No one besides the murderer knew where Mr Manwaring had been badly injured. It is an understatement; he had been blown apart inside with a shotgun close to his chest,' Mr Stuart-Moore said.

The letter also referred to several items that had been stolen by the murderer, including a camera that Mr Laing was later seen carrying. Ms Manwaring 'apologises to her brother for taking his bank books by mistake'. But the day after the murder Mr Laing was photographed attempting to withdraw money from Mark Manwaring's building society account.

Before Ms Manwaring died she was handcuffed, assaulted and physically and mentally tortured to reveal personal details about her life. The letter suggests she was depressed, in complete contrast to a genuine letter she wrote to her brother on the day before her death.

The trial continues today.