Murder case man 'was forced to bury bodies'

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The Independent Online
THE MAN accused of shooting Matthew Manwaring and strangling his daughter Alison so that he could steal a car they had advertised, admitted burying their dismembered bodies but denied killing them, an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday.

Benjamin Laing, 25, a driver, of East Ham, east London, told two police officers at Pentonville prison, Islington, that he had been forced by a terrorist organisation to bury the bodies in his girlfriend's garden.

'I didn't kill them,' he told the officers. 'I am an intelligent man, if you don't believe me I will go down for it.'

The Crown alleges that Mr Laing shot Mr Manwaring, 62, a retired bank messenger, at his home in Barking, east London, on 23 April last year and tortured Miss Manwaring, 24, before strangling her. He allegedly dismembered their bodies in the bathroom. He denies the charges.

Six days after the murder Mr Laing went to the police and admitted buying Mr Manwaring's car. Initially he insisted that when he left the Manwarings they were in 'good health' and he had not heard from or seen them since.

'I don't know what happened to them, I heard on the radio that they were missing. I volunteered myself to try and help and I've been arrested,' he told the police.

However, after a prison visit by his mother, Mr Laing immediately asked to speak to the police again. He told them that he had been framed for the murders by a group of Fijian freedom fighters because he 'knew too much'.

He added: 'They have killed people before. I wanted to get out of the organisation but they wouldn't let me.'

Detective Inspector Philip Burrows, of Barking police, told the court that Mr Laing said the organisation must have followed him to the Manwaring house. 'I received a phone call on the Monday . . . they drove me to some waste ground. They showed me the plastic bags, I saw a foot and some arms,' he told the police.

Mr Laing said that four men put the plastic bags into his car and they all drove to his girlfriend's house in Abbey Wood, near Greenwich, south-east London. 'We went into the garden and dug a hole. We then buried the plastic bags.'

The trial continues today.