Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Pennie Davis death: Court case revealed secrets of New Forest family

Pennie Davis Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Pennie Davis was found stabbed in a field at Leygreen Farm where she had been tending to her horses

A career criminal has been found guilty of murder as part of a plot to "silence" mother-of-five Pennie Davis. She was stabbed 14 times by Justin Robertson in a field where she had been tending her horses. But why would anyone want to kill a "doting" mother in the unlikely setting of a picturesque New Forest village?

During the trial at Winchester Crown Court, a tangled web of relationships, allegations and grudges began to emerge.

The case centred on Mrs Davis's relationship with Benjamin Carr, 22, who had "lasting hate and anger" towards his father's former partner and was found guilty of conspiracy to murder his former stepmother. Mrs Davis, 47, had been in a "toxic" on-off relationship with Timothy Carr from about 2005 to 2012.

A show-jumper in her younger days, she had a life-long love of horses. She and her new husband Peter had recently moved theirs to the field at Leygreen Farm, a mile from Beaulieu, and she had just got a new horse, called Tom.

Image copyright Nicola Lambert
Image caption Pennie Davis had five children: (L-R) Daniel Lambert, 15, Sophie Pead, 21, Georga Pead, 18, Alex Pead, 20, and Joe Lambert, 14.

It was Mr Davis who found her there dead with multiple stab wounds on 2 September 2014.

Police began a murder investigation, which eventually led them back to Carr.

Tensions had first flared between him and Mrs Davis in 2005 when he said he caught her having sex with another man.

When Mrs Davis said she had in fact been been raped, he refused to back her up to police.

The pair clashed again when Carr was 14.

Mrs Davis reported him to police for two sexual assaults. He denied the claim and the matter was not taken further by police.

Image caption Pennie and Peter Davis had only just moved their horses to Leygreen Farm, one mile from Beaulieu
Image caption Police scoured the area where Mrs Davis was found dead but the murder weapon has never been found

Animosity resurfaced last year when Mrs Davis found out Carr's father was to marry his new partner, Alison Macintyre.

As well as sending Facebook messages to Ms Macintyre, including one saying "Good luck, you will need it", she returned to the sexual assault allegations against Carr and threatened to go back to police with new evidence.

Carr said while he gave evidence he was "furious" and, fearing she would disrupt the wedding, hatched a plan to pay career criminal Robertson £1,500 to "silence her for good".

Carr said he had asked Robertson, 36, to use "physical words, no actual physical violence, to warn her to back away from me and my family and the wedding".

Carr, who created an alibi for himself by going out with friends, was described as "persuasive" by Robertson, who also said Carr owed him money.

Robertson has previously served time in prison for more than 70 thefts and claimed his only dealings with Carr were to do with drugs.

He said phone calls with Carr linking him to the area at the time of the murder concerned drug deals.

Robertson's "ethos", which he had written down, was read to jurors.

It said: "Theft I love it, drugs I love it, murder I hate it. I steal money, I don't harm people, I have never hurt a woman, never carried an offensive weapon."

Image copyright Hampshire Police
Image caption Justin Robertson (left) will serve 32 years for murder and Benjamin Carr (right) 30 years for conspiracy to murder

He described the place where Mrs Davis died as "the posh area", claiming he had been there looking for houses to burgle.

"I robbed a butcher's shop out there; I robbed a clothes shop," he said.

"It was rich people who didn't know how to protect it but I only steal things they could claim on their insurance and so didn't cost them."

He was linked to the crime after keys for the car he was using, belonging to Samantha Maclean, were found next to the body of Mrs Davis.

Ms Maclean was found not guilty of conspiracy to murder by the jury.

Mr Justice Andrew Popplewell QC said in his summing up Robertson had called a friend to take him away from the scene after realising he had lost the car keys.

He later asked another friend to take him back to the road near Leygreen Farm where he had parked the Vauxhall to try and find the keys, but stopped off to buy cigarettes and a Toblerone chocolate bar on the way.

He claimed he had no idea how the car keys ended up next to Mrs Davis's body. He said that he always tried to protect women and would never harm one.

Image caption Pennie Davis's widower Peter is dreading their first wedding anniversary at the end of May and says his life has become a "nightmare"

But witness Natasha Brook told the jury Robertson had confessed to her that he had killed Mrs Davis.

During the seven-week trial jurors heard Robertson had arrived at Ms Brook's house at roughly 19:30 BST on the day of the murder.

She said: "He said to me he had done something stupid.

"He turned round and said he had killed someone. I thought he was joking as he has a twisted sense of humour but he turned around and said 'I killed a woman'.

"He said I would read about it soon enough'."

Ms Brooks also said he did three lines of cocaine in her kitchen and picked up a knife, which was about 15cm (6in) long and said it was similar to the one he used to stab Mrs Davis.

He claims he was at Ms Brook's house to check on cannabis plants he was growing there.

Robertson denies making such a confession or telling a similar story to Frank Carr [no relation to Benjamin Carr] on a boat a group of friends were restoring.

The court heard Robertson had devised a plan to tie Mrs Davis up with a rope, but as he stood in the field with her, his balaclava slipped off and he "panicked" and stabbed her.

The murder weapon has never been found.

When Mr Davis first saw his wife lying in the field, he thought she was sunbathing, but as he approached he quickly realised something was wrong.

He described the days since her death as "an absolute nightmare".

"I know people say that these things get better with time but it is going to take me personally a long time to get over it," he said.

"I see people kissing and holding hands and that's how me and Pennie were."

Image caption Flowers were laid at the scene of the crime in the days that followed Mrs Davis's death

He said the couple had "saved each other" when they met by chance in a pub and "clicked" from that moment.

"Me and Pennie met by fate. I could have gone to any pub but I happened to go to that pub," he said.

"She happened to be helping the landlady out - she wasn't supposed to be there.

"Everything was going fine in our lives and we were ready to grab life with both hands, together."

He said many lies had been told at the trial and urged people to remember his "angel" as a loving mother who was "very proud" of her five children.

"She doted on her kids and she would help anyone," he said.

"She was the life and soul of the party. She couldn't do enough for people."

Image caption Georga Pead said she hoped she could be "at least half the woman" her mother was

Mrs Davis's daughter Georga Pead, 18, said it was important to remember that her mother's wish to see her children grow up had been ripped away.

She said: "We are young adults but she was still there every step of the way.

"That was her one wish and she wanted to be there our entire lives and now she can't do that.

"Now we have got to try and do our best to make her proud.

"I hope that when I grow up my children will have the same childhood we had and I will be at least half the woman she was."

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