Defendant ‘was out committing another crime at time of Julian’s death’, court told

A MAN accused of killing a businessman in a bungled burglary attempt has said he was involved in another theft at the time, a court heard.

Julian Gardner, 52, was killed on 11 October 2010 when he tried to tackle burglars at his farm in Robertsbridge.

Marcus Bristow, 32, of Ashford, denies manslaughter and conspiracy to commit burglary and perverting the course of justice.

Lewes Crown Court heard that at 12.44am on the night of Mr Gardner’s death Bristow made a phone call to another defendant Terrence Dunn.

It is alleged Bristow made this call to set up a plan in which Mr Dunn would let the defendants use his land to burn a jeep which had been used in the burglary.

Terrence Dunn, 57, of Sandhurst, denies one charge of perverting the course of justice after the torched jeep was found on land close to his house.

The phone call from Marcus Bristow to Terrence Dunn was described by prosecutor Christine Laing as the ‘single most damaging’ piece of evidence against him.

However due to cell site analysis – which much of the case hinges on - Bristow claims he could not have been in Robertsbridge at the time of the call.

Defending Peter Gower QC said: “The call could not have been made from the crime scene.

“It was made from a location covered by the Silverden cell which stretches from Chilmington Green to Rolvenden.

“This means Mr Bristow could not have been within a three or four kilometre radius of the crime scene at the time.”

The court heard the phone call lasted for 11 seconds which Mr Gower claims could not have been long enough to recruit Terrence Dunn as part of the crime.

Bristow claims that the call actually relates to a key he had been asked to transport for an Iveko lorry.

The lorry used to belong to his brother Paul Bristow, it was sold on in August 2009 but he had kept a spare key.

It was later used as part of the burglary cover-up, although Bristow says he had no idea what it was to be used for this and thought it was to be used for another crime - stealing paving slabs.

Mr Gower QC said: “If you were going to make up a story why would you make up one which links you to a vehicle connected to the cover up?

“And why would you implicatew yourself in another offence?”

He later added: “Even someone as stupid as Marcus Bristow could not have implicated himself in another burglary if it wasn’t true.”

Bristow claims he later abandoned the handset because an unnamed source had told him what had happened at Robertsbridge and he was worried he would be implicated in the case.

He then fled to Blackpool with his family but handed himself in a few days later.

Mr Gower admitted that his client had ‘lied and lied and lied’ in interviews but that the ‘culture’ of the travelling community meant Bristow was scared of ‘repercussions’ for his family if he implicated others.

Terrence Bristow, 41, from Ashford; Marcus Bristow, 32, from Tunbridge Wells; Christopher Leek, 30, from Cranbrook; Paul Dunn, 33, from Cranbrook; Oliver Payne, 25, from Tunbridge Wells; and Lee Delay, 23, from Tunbridge Wells, deny manslaughter, conspiracy to commit burglary and perverting the course of justice.

Paul Dunn’s father Terrence Dunn, 57, of Sandhurst, is charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The trial continues.

The jury were expected to retire on Friday or today (Monday).