Hereford & Worcester

Man found in Avenbury river 'killed for inheritance'

Tom Holt
Image caption Tom Holt was last seen alive in September 2009, the court heard

A couple murdered a man and dumped his body in a river to get his inheritance money to pay for drugs, a jury has heard.

Shaun Stokes, 32, and Petra Stokes, 27, from Hasnett Road, Ledbury, deny murdering Tom Holt, from May Hill, Gloucestershire.

Mr Holt's body was found in the River Frome in Herefordshire, in October 2009, Worcester Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor James Burbidge said he had "been attacked in a ferocious manner".

Ms Stokes also denies assisting to dispose of Mr Holt's body.

The court heard from three former school friends of Mr Holt, one of whom said they warned him not to tell other people about his £12,000 inheritance money.

Mr Holt had inherited the money from his mother who died from cancer a year earlier. He had intended on buying a car with the money, the jury was told.

Mr Burbidge told the court Mr Holt was a heroin addict and knew the Stokes through his addiction.

'Catastrophic head injuries'

Mr Stokes had used heroin and Ms Stokes, who changed her surname by Deed Poll to match her partner's name, used the drug occasionally, the court heard.

Mr Burbidge showed the jury bank statements belonging to Mr Holt in the weeks after he is alleged to have been killed.

He said it was evidence that Mr Stokes had made daily withdrawals of £300, which he claimed the defendant used to buy heroin as well as pay for supermarket shopping.

Mr and Ms Stokes, who live together and have a daughter, had picked up Mr Holt up from Four Oaks, near Newent, Gloucestershire, on 18 September 2009, the court heard.

It was two days after the inheritance money was paid into his account and was also the last time he seen alive, the court heard.

Mr Holt's body was found in the River Frome at Avenbury, near Bromyard, on 7 October.

Mr Burbidge said: "He'd been attacked in a ferocious manner and most probably died because of his catastrophic head injuries".

The case continues.

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