'Fire trap' man tells of escape

Click to follow
A man described to a court yesterday how he and his girlfriend escaped from a blazing car as it plunged down a hill.

Ivor Stokle, 34, told Bristol Crown Court how he and his girlfriend, Pauline Leyshon, 43, were kidnapped from a bungalow at Staunton, Gloucestershire, on 15 November, 1991.

He said they were beaten and bound and placed in their Vauxhall Viva car, which was set ablaze and pushed down a hill at a local beauty spot.

Mr Stokle said he had pretended to be semi-conscious and managed to free some of his bonds. He swung his ankles over his girlfriend and kicked open her door, allowing her to fall clear. With the interior of the car ablaze he then opened his door and fell clear, he said.

The prosecution claims that Mr Stokle's former girlfriend, Sheila Stroud, 32, and her boyfriend, Mark Evans, 31, of Leadbury Road Crescent, Staunton, stood to gain pounds 138,000 in insurance policies on Mr Stokle's death. It further alleges that they hired Norman White, 30, of Cromwell Street, Gloucester, to carry out the killing for pounds 30,000. All three deny joint charges of attempted murder.

Alan Jenkins, for the prosecution, said that Ms Stroud, a horse breeder, owed pounds 20,000 to Mr Stokle as part of a deal on the bungalow they had bought together at Staunton.

Mr Stokle recalled how he and his girlfriend went to the bungalow to meet Ms Stroud and Mr Evans. As they drank tea a man burst in. He was wearing a wet weather suit and a hood, concealing most of his features.

Mr Stokle said the man held a seven-inch knife at his throat and ordered him to lie on the floor. He was then tightly bound. He said he heard Ms Stroud say: 'This will teach you to shit on me.'

The court had heard previously that following the ordeal Mr Stokle and his girlfriend were in hospital for two months with 30 to 40 per cent burns.

The trial resumes on Monday.