Murder case man 'was given a false alibi': 'Friend asked to help a person in trouble'

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The Independent Online
THE girlfriend of the man accused of murdering Matthew and Alison Manwaring persuaded a friend to give him a false alibi, an Old Bailey jury was told yesterday.

Danville Bromfield, 30, from Tottenham, north London, told the court that Sharon Thompson asked him to give Benjamin Laing an alibi, even though he had never met him. 'She asked me to do a favour, to help an innocent person who had got into trouble,' he said.

Mr Laing, 25, a driver from East Ham, east London, denies murdering the Manwarings on 23 April last year. The Crown alleges he shot Mr Manwaring, 62, at his home in Barking, east London, and strangled Ms Manwaring, 24, to steal a car they had advertised for sale. Their dismembered bodies were later found buried in Ms Thompson's garden.

Mr Bromfield said that Ms Thompson told him to say he had met Mr Laing at her son's bithday party and had borrowed pounds 50 from him. 'I was supposed to have met him again at a later date and returned the money,' he said.

Although Mr Bromfield made a statement to Mr Laing's solicitors supporting this story, he retracted it five days later. 'At first I thought it was all right. As time went on I started to really think about it. I thought that I couldn't do it. I could not stand up and tell a lie.'

Anthony Scrivener QC, for Mr Laing, told the jury that Mr Laing had been 'set up' for the murders. He said: 'Mr Laing has spent a long time protecting himself and other people; he now realises he has to tell the truth.'

Mr Laing told the jury that he had bought the Manwaring's Ford Escort Cabriolet as a 'favour' for Mark Leslie, his best friend. Mr Leslie provided him with pounds 8,000 in cash and told him to leave the car at an address in Dagenham, east London. 'I rang Matthew Manwaring and asked him for his address, Mark had already given me the phone number, and I made an appointment to meet him,' he said.

The trial continues today.