Lodger denies drowning former vicar before chopping up body

Jason Bennetto Crime Correspondent
Thursday 19 December 2013 03:27

A teenager who admitted using an axe and a saw to cut up the body of a retired vicar denied yesterday he drowned the clergyman in his bath.

Christopher Hunnisett allegedly murdered the Reverend Ronald Glazebrook, 81, because he had threatened to throw the teenager out of his home after he became abusive.

Mr Hunnisett, 18, denies drowning Mr Glazebrook at the pensioner's flat in St Leonards, East Sussex, on 27 April last year. But he admits preventing lawful burial by chopping up Mr Glazebrook, then burying his limbs and head at one site in East Sussex and his torso at another. His friend, Jason Groves, 18, from Hastings, has also previously pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful burial.

Lewes Crown Court was told the teenager met Mr Glazebrook at the church they attended near the former vicar's flat in St Leonards.

Mr Glazebrook had allowed Mr Hunnisett to lodge because he was having family problems, but Mr Glazebrook became so fed up with his behaviour he wrote to the youngster's mother asking her to take him home. Two days before he died, Mr Glazebrook wrote in a letter to Mr Hunnisett's mother that her son had pinned him to a chair and sprayed him with deodorant.

Philip Katz, QC, for the prosecution, said Mr Glazebrook wrote: "My patience with Christopher Hunnisett has finally run out" and "he is a liability rather than a help". In the letter, the vicar says Mr Hunnisett "believes force is the answer to 98 per cent of life's problems".

Mr Hunnisett drowned the vicar in the bath then told two of his friends, the jury was told. He enlisted one friend, Mr Groves, to help him dispose of the body before lying to police investigating the clergyman's disappearance. The teenagers had tried to dump the body at sea off Mr Glazebrook's yacht.

Mr Katz said the teenager had enjoyed living at the "elegant" flat rent-free, and had also enjoyed using the former vicar's car and yacht. "There were no sexual overtones to this relationship, none at all. It was simply a case of what turned out to be misguided charity to this defendant."

Mr Groves allegedly told police Mr Hunnisett had confessed that he had drowned the clergyman. Mr Groves had seen the body in the bath in the flat, was present when the body was chopped up and witnessed "a failed attempt to dispose of the body at sea by Mr Glazebrook's boat at Newhaven marina", Mr Katz said. The trial continues.