Preston murder trial jury hears the accused told woman: 'I was there'

A man who was allegedly murdered by his lodger told an acquaintance of the victim that he had been there when he died, a court has heard.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 5:00 pm

Angela Halsall, whose brother is married to victim Steven May's sister, Michelle Halsall, went to Mr May's house the same day he was found.

Giving evidence during the trial of Darren Taylor, 45, who is accused of Mr May's murder, she said she saw his body "laid out" on the bed.

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Preston Crown Court

She told the jury Taylor indicated he knew her, but she was not sure who he was.

The court heard she spoke to Steven and made a decision to visit him at his house, but before that was arranged he was found dead.

On May 20, after learning of his death, she went to the house.

Prosecuting, Gordon Cole QC asked what happened after she had seen Mr May's body and she said she had gone into the back garden.

She said: " As I opened the back door, Darren was sat on a deckchair in the garden and I said: 'Oh that was a shock, I need a drink.'

"He said: 'I do as well.'"

The same day - May 20 - after Ms Halsall got back home, she received a phone call from Darren Taylor asking if he could 'come round for a drink'.

She said she agreed - though she told the jury she had never given him her mobile number.

She said she poured him a whisky and added: " He finished half a bottle that was there, and then I was talking to him in the kitchen.

"I said to him: "It doesn't look right how Steven died, laid out straight like that - to me he looked like he'd been laid out straight to die", and he said: "I should know - I was there".

"I didn't say anything to him after that. He asked me for a piece of paper and a pen because he wanted to write a note to his friend to post through the letter box.

"I gave him a pen and paper, and then I said: 'Here, there's half a bottle of vodka there, you'll have to take it because I've got to go to my sisters."

She told the jury the 'hairs stood up on her neck' when he made the remark, and she gave the vodka to him to "get rid of him after what he said", because she felt frightened.

When she refused, he then asked: "Do you think it would be bad if I rung Michelle?"

The court heard Taylor rang Ms Halsall on a different day when he rang her and had also knocked on her door, but was sent away by her partner.

He carried on contacting her by phone, but she never answered and later gave her phone to the police.

Defending, John Jones QC asked her about the comment Taylor had made to her and suggested in her statement she had never mentioned it, and that it was untrue.

She replied she couldn't read due to dyslexia, had trusted what the police officer had put, and had agreed her statement was all right without him reading it back.

He said: "This assertion you make is something you've never said before."

She replied: "What I've said is true - stop trying to twist my words."

(proceeding)