South East Wales

David Cook murder trial: Pathologist confirms account of killing

Leonard Hill
Image caption Leonard Hill had been bound around his legs and arms

A pathologist has confirmed a convicted murderer's account of how he bound, gagged and "throttled" a neighbour, who he claimed had made a pass at him.

David Cook beat Leonard Hill, 64, senseless before throttling him with a TV flex, Newport Crown Court has heard.

Mr Hill's body was found in Mr Cook's home in Rhymney.

Mr Cook, 65, claims he lost control and killed Mr Hill after receiving unwanted sexual attention. He admits killing Mr Hill but denies murder last June.

The jury has heard claims the defendant ransacked his neighbour's bungalow after the killing, stealing his wallet before going to a nearby pub for a drink with locals.

Mr Cook then went about his business as normal for 12 days while his victim's body decomposed in a bedroom in his bungalow home, the jury has been told.

The prosecution claims his motives were his debts.

Mr Hill had been bound around his legs and his arms, it is alleged.

'Blindfolding'

Mr Cook has previous convictions for robbery in the 1980s when he tied up his victims using tape, wire and cords, the court has heard.

The jury has also heard how in 1987 he strangled Sunday school teacher Beryl Maynard with a dressing gown cord at her home in Reading.

He was jailed for life in 1988, but was released on "life licence" in the latter part of 2009 and ended up living in a bungalow next to Mr Hill in March 2011.

The court has heard that Mr Cook described to police the manner in which he beat, gagged and trussed up Mr Hill using tape, shoelaces and cloth.

He went on to throttle Mr Hill, drag his body into a bedroom and hide it under a pile of mats, carpets and cushions.

Pathologist Dr Derek James explained to the court on Wednesday how he carried out a full examination of Mr Hill's body and had been to the scene of the death.

Image caption A police cordon in Rhymney in June 2011

David Aubrey QC, prosecuting, asked Dr James if he noticed slash marks in some cushions.

"Yes, and feathers were coming out of the cushions," Dr James replied.

"Could you see that the body had been trussed using tape and other ligatures?" asked Mr Aubrey.

"That there were flies and larvae and eggs on the body, indicating that the body had been there quite a while? We now know that it was about 12 days."

"Yes," Dr James said, and went on to explain that he removed the bindings carefully in stages which were recorded on video.

He also outlined a series of ways in which a person dies from violent pressure to the neck.

He agreed that Mr Hill's death was "consistent" with the way Mr Cook had described his attack to the police.

Mr Aubrey asked: "Was it consistent with blindfolding, gagging, trussing up and then throttling?"

"Yes," Dr James replied.

The trial continues.

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