THE FOSTER family of teenager Billie-Jo Jenkins was living in fear of a prowler at the time of her death, a court heard yesterday.
They had decided to move home because they felt they were being watched, Peter Gaimster, a family friend told Lewes Crown Court, Sussex.
Billie-Jo Jenkins, 13, was found savagely beaten around the head on the patio of her foster family's home in Hastings, East Sussex, in February last year. Sion Jenkins, 40, her foster father, is accused of her murder, based on forensic evidence such as microscopic blood spots on his clothes. He denies her murder.
Yesterday the court was read Peter Gaimster's statement, taken last year, in which he described a dinner party at the Jenkins' home a week before Billie-Jo's death. At the dinner Sion Jenkins discussed how a prowler might have got around the back of the house and showed Mr Gaimster extra security lighting that had been fitted outside.
The defendant told his friend that his car had been vandalised, the family had received "strange" telephone calls and they had "had enough". They intended to move house. "It was obvious they were worried. They felt sure they were being watched," Mr Gaimster said.
Under cross-examination by Anthony Scrivener QC, the court heard Mr Gaimster believed Billie-Jo had done well with the Jenkins family in the five years since she was fostered from her natural family in the East End of London.
Dc Tracey Christmas, a police officer who looked after the family the evening of the killing, said an "odd" incident occurred that night. As Sion Jenkins went to leave the home of a neighbour who was looking after the family, he refused to wear his blue fleece jacket.
"I just felt it was a little odd because I was extremely cold and had been most of the evening," Dc Christmas said.
The trial continues.
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