Judge sums up at Pennie Davis murder trial

Pennie Davis was stabbed 13 times in a field in the New Forest last September
Pennie Davis was stabbed 13 times in a field in the New Forest last September
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A judge has begun summing up in the trial of a man accused of murdering a former Chichester mother-of-five as she tended her horses in a New Forest field.

Pennie Davis, 47, was stabbed to death at Leygreen Farm in Beaulieu, Hampshire, on September 2 last year.

She had moved to the New Forest shortly before her death and had previously worked at Tesco in Fishbourne.

Justin Robertson, 36, of no fixed address, who denies her murder and conspiracy to murder, was traced by police after he dropped a set of car keys at the murder scene, Winchester Crown Court has heard.

Ben Carr, 22, of Edward Road, Southampton, and Samantha Maclean, 28, of Beech Crescent, Hythe, are also charged with conspiracy to murder, which they deny.

The judge, Mr Justice Andrew Popplewell QC, began summing up the case before the jury of seven men and five women is sent out to consider its verdicts.

He told the jury that their initial focus should be on whether to convict Robertson for murder, before going on to consider the conspiracy charges.

The judge said that the prosecution claims Carr recruited Robertson to kill Ms Davis because he was unhappy she had sent a social media message to Alison Macintyre, his father’s fiancee.

Carr has previously told the court that the message contained a threat to tell police of a sexual assault allegation made against him when he was 14.

Mr Justice Popplewell said: “The prosecution case is that Benjamin Carr recruited Justin Robertson to kill Pennie Davis in response to the Facebook messages from her to Alison Macintyre on the 28th August and over the next two weeks they planned the killing.”

He said that the Crown alleges that Maclean also planned the killing.

“It is your task to decide whether the prosecution have proved that case against any or all of the defendants,” he said.

“If after considering all the evidence you are not sure, you must acquit. Only if after considering all the evidence you are sure a defendant is guilty can you convict.”

He went on: “You must not let emotion or sympathy play any part in your decision.

“There are aspects of the case that are bound to excite emotion and sympathy, but put those out of your minds because feelings of sympathy and emotion can cloud judgment.”

The judge outlined the case of the three defendants.

Robertson “denied being involved in any such plan and denies being involved in Pennie Davis’ death,” he said.

“He was never aware of the Facebook messages and the name Pennie Davis did not mean anything to him,” the judge summed up.

Mr Justice Popplewell told the jury that Carr accepted hiring Robertson, but there was never meant to be any violence against Ms Davis.

“His case is that he recruited Justin Robertson but only to frighten her into leaving the Carr family alone and not interfere with the forthcoming marriage of his father. His case was that he never intended for her to be harmed,” the judge said.

Meanwhile Maclean’s case was that “she did not know of any plan” to kill Ms Davies, he said.

“Justin Robertson borrowed her car and her phone as he often did, but she had no knowledge of what he was using either of them for.”

The judge continued: “Her case is she had no motive to join in a plan to kill Pennie Davis or anyone, that she had none of the attributes that the other two would look for in an accomplice and it would be highly out of character for her to involve herself in a killing.

“Her case is that she had no idea what Ben Carr or Justin Robertson were up to.”

Mr Justice Popplewell told the court that when Robertson was in the witness box he gave the impression that there was other evidence not heard by the jury which would assist his case.

The judge told the jurors that “you can be entirely sure” his lawyers have deployed all the evidence on his behalf which should have been heard during the trial.

The judge noted that Robertson and Carr both gave evidence which supported their own cases while being adverse towards each other.

“Treat it with caution,” Mr Justice Popplewell told the jury, “because they have their own interests to serve”.

Maclean elected not to give evidence during the trial.

“You would be entitled to conclude it was because she did not have an answer to the prosecution case which would stand up to cross examination,” the judge said.

But he added: “You cannot convict her only or mainly because of the failure to give evidence.”

The judge continued: “Before you could convict Samantha Maclean you would have to be sure of three things.

“Firstly, that she knew of a plan to kill Pennie Davis agreed between Justin Robertson and Ben Carr, secondly, she agreed with either Ben Carr or Justin Robertson or both to play some part to carry out the plan to kill Pennie Davis, and thirdly, when she agreed to join in that plan she intended for Justin Robertson to carry out that killing.”

The judge said that Carr told the court he and Robertson “hadn’t considered the possibility” that Ms Davis could scream and resist during the incident.

“He said that it was simply a case of hoping that putting the frighteners on her would keep her out of his life,” Mr Justice Popplewell told the jury.

Describing the knife injuries suffered by Ms Davis, including seven to the torso and five to the right arm, the judge said: “You may think that the depth and number of wounds make this a particularly brutal attack.”

On the issue of Robertson’s car key being found near the scene, the judge reminded the jury that the defendant suggested it may have been planted.

“He suggested that the key had been planted in the field because he didn’t drop it there and he didn’t go anywhere near where it was found,” he said.

“He accepted he was not in a position to proffer an explanation for someone planting the key.”

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow, when the judge is expected to finish summing up.