Sussex

Golfer found body on Brighton course, murder trial told

Stefan Welch
Image caption The burnt body of Mr Welch was found at the Dyke Golf Club on 4 September

The badly-burned remains of a drug user were found on a golf course in Brighton when a golfer went to fetch a stray ball, a murder trial has heard.

Victim Stefan Welch, 36, suffered a brain trauma before his body was moved to Dyke Golf Club, doused with petrol and set alight, jurors were told.

Sean Iran, 21, of St Richard's Road, Portslade, Brighton, denies murder at Lewes Crown Court.

A golfer found the body between the 17th and 18th holes last September.

'Debt threats'

The court heard Mr Welch had struggled with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his adult life which had brought him in contact with the police.

The day before he died, Mr Welch told his probation officer that he had been threatened over drug debts, jurors were told.

Prosecuting, Philip Katz QC, said: "The prosecution say that this shadowy, murky background of illegal drugs and drug debts is what lies behind this murder."

Mr Katz said Mr Iran also had drugs debts of his own and the two men had been in prison together.

He said: "Stefan Welch left his probation meeting and went to where we can't say. But the prosecution case is that he was that day murdered by Sean Iran."

Later that night, Mr Iran, together with his father and brother, tried to eliminate the evidence of the murder, Mr Katz told the court.

"The body was then moved to that golf course, it was doused with petrol and set alight. A number of witnesses will tell you that Sean and Stefan Welch knew one another.

"They appeared to be on friendly terms. There is no hiding behind the background of this case."

'Heavy blunt object'

He said that in prison Mr Welch had looked after and protected Mr Iran and on one occasion stopped him from being stabbed by inmates.

He said the pair maintained contact and saw each other regularly.

The court heard Mr Welch's "catastrophic brain trauma" was caused by a heavy, blunt object and he had probably died in less than an hour.

Mr Katz said the first group of golfers to tee off at the golf course on 4 September were walking to the 18th tee when one of them hit a "rather bad shot" and went into some bushes to find the ball.

He said: "When he did that, he found in the bushes an area that had been damaged by fire and it didn't take him very long to find the burnt remains of a human being. That dead man was Stefan Welch."

Mr Iran also denies conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

His father, Babak Iran, 44, and brother Navid Iran, 23, also from St Richard's Road, also deny perverting the course of justice.

The case continues.

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