ONE of the defendants accused of the brutal murder of a Chester man admitted his guilt to a shop assistant the morning after the attack, a court was told.
Chester Crown Court heard Gary Anthony George, 41, told a member of staff at McColl’s newsagents on Brook Lane, Newton, that he had “murdered his best mate and would be going away for a long time”.
George, 41, alongside Christine Margaret Holleran, 50, is accused of murdering Andrew Mackenzie Nall, 53, at his Chester flat last year.
The body of Mr Nall, who Chester Crown Court heard was known affectionately as ‘Scottish Andy’, was found at his flat on Eversley Park on August 31, with strange cuts into his flesh, salt rubbed into his wounds, broken ribs and collapsed lungs.
Giving evidence, Joanne Price, who had been working at the newsagent at 10am on the morning of August 31, told jurors she had noticed George trying to steal a bottle of sherry from the store, placing it under his coat.
Mrs Price said: “We knew him as Mansion House man, as he would come in at 8am nearly everyday and buy a bottle of Mansion House sherry. He always smelled of drink.
“I had seen him put the sherry under his coat and then attempt to walk out without paying. I went over to speak with him and tell him to put it back. He told me to ‘leave him be and leave him alone’.
“I told him that I couldn’t do that and that he had to put the sherry back otherwise I would have to call the police. He said ‘call the police, they’re after me anyway. I’ve just murdered my best mate. I’m going away for a long time’. He was choked and was crying when he was talking to me.
“He gave me the sherry back and then he left the shop.”
Mrs Price also told jurors George had an amount of dry blood on the top of his hand and appeared to have wet himself.
It wasn’t until Mrs Price noticed a photograph of George several days later in a newspaper article that she gave her statement to police.
Defending George, George Cole QC, asked Mrs Price if ‘Mansion House man was in the dock today’, to which she replied ‘yes’.
The two defendants were seen at 7.50am on August 31 buying cider from Morrisons supermarket on Liverpool Road, using money believed to taken from Mr Nall’s wallet – possibly after his death.
George, of no fixed address, admits killing Mr Nall on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denies murdering him. Holleran, formerly of Edge Lane, Liverpool, also denies the charge of murder.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ian Unsworth QC, prosecuting, said the Crown would not accept George’s plea to manslaughter.
George also denies a separate incident in which a man, Brian James Riley, was attacked with a broken bottle in a city centre subway.
The court also heard evidence from a shop assistant at Bargain Booze, on Mill Lane, Upton, who had seen the defendants at 9.30pm on August 30 when they came into the shop where George bought some sherry and cider.
Rachel Reeves said: “He asked for a bottle of sherry and then he turned round and told me that the woman he was with had been raped.
“He said that it was okay ‘I’m going to get him back’. She was just standing there calmly when he said it. He said it a further three or four times, ‘I’m, going to get him back, I’m going to get him back’.
“He mentioned the man who had done it had been living with the woman and he had ‘taken advantage of her’. They then left together. They seemed quite friendly towards each other.”
The court heard evidence from Liam John Smith, 31, who had been living in Roodee House homeless shelter in Chester, and had spent time with Mr Nall and Holleran on the morning of August 30.
Mr Smith, a recovering heroin addict, said he was familiar with Mr Nall, Holleran and George and found Mr Nall, who he considered a friend, to be ‘pleasant and friendly’.
“We would often get together and have a drink and just watch the world go by,” said Mr Smith.
Smith told the jury how Mr Nall, who had been living with Holleran, had shown him bruises on his body which he said were caused by the aggressive behaviour of Holleran, although he said he did not know whether that was true.
He said that he referred to Holleran as ‘Chris’ or ‘Mother’ and had been drinking with both Mr Nall and Holleran on August 30, even taking a picture, which was shown to the court, of a friendly, smiling embrace between the pair, taken on the victim’s mobile phone.