New Addington murder accused Cherri Gilmartin and Jason Lodge 'hit victim David Petch in self-defence'

David Petch died in April last year

David Petch died in April last year

First published in Local news
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Your Local Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The neighbour of a suspected cocaine dealer described seeing his alleged killers stamp on his head and hit him with a baseball bat.

Katie Recknall today told the Old Bailey how mum-of-eight Cherri Gilmartin and boyfriend Jason Lodge drunkenly knocked on the door of her New Addington flat and demanded to see 55-year-old David Petch moments before allegedly beating the father-of-nine to death.

Miss Gilmartin, 37, and Mr Lodge, 39, of Uvedale Crescent, went looking for Mr Petch in at his home in Wayside, Fieldway on April 14 last year because they believed he had supplied Miss Gilmartin's sister with cocaine.

They told police they beat Mr Petch, who died four days later of severe head injuries, in self-defence after he attacked Mr Lodge with a baseball bat.

A post-mortem examination found his skull to be fractured, with pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl concluding the fatal injuries had been caused by stamping.

The jury today heard Miss Recknall saw Mr Lodge pinning back Mr Petch's arms while Miss Gilmartin clubbed him with the bat, knocking him to the ground outside his flat.

Mr Lodge is alleged to have stamped on Mr Petch’s head as he lay on the floor. 

Miss Recknall, 20, who saw the violence from her bedroom window, said: “She ran towards the elderly man [Mr Petch] and the tall man [Mr Lodge] said ‘hit him’ so she hit him in the ribs. I saw the elderly man fall to the ground.”

She added: “As they ran away the tall man stamped on his head – a hard stamp.”

The alleged killers, who have eight children together aged between 19 years and a few months old, had mistakenly knocked on Miss Recknall's door and that of another neighbour, Dawn Retter, as they hunted for Mr Petch.

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Giving evidence on the second day of the couple’s trial for murder, Miss Retter said: “They were banging on my door and saying ‘Open the f***** door’.

“I was a little bit scared because I’m not really used to that kind of thing.”

Miss Gilmartin apologised when she realised they had got the wrong house, Miss Retter told the court.

Miss Gilmartin and Mr Lodge then knocked at the flat Miss Recknall shares with her boyfriend John Nolan and two children.

Miss Recknall said: “They kept saying what sounded like ‘Where’s Petty?’ My partner had to tell them six times we didn’t know what they were talking about and then we had two children sleeping.”

The two accused killers then let themselves into Mr Petch’s flat at about 11.30pm, the jury heard.

Another neighbour, Tony Leigh, is said to have seen them beating the alleged victim to death outside a few minutes later.

Miss Gilmartin and Mr Lodge, who were arrested on April 17, told the police they had visited Mr Petch to tell him to stop selling cocaine to her sister.

They claim Mr Petch attacked Mr Lodge with the baseball bat, sparking a scuffle between the two.

Miss Gilmartin claims she never wielded the bat, despite witnesses reporting seeing her throw it onto a roof.

Police who inspected Mr Petch's flat found 6.9g of cocaine in a locked box in his wardrobe, along with £300 cash and notes of names they suspected to indicate drug dealing. 

Simon Denison, prosecuting, said: “Regardless of what happened inside the flat, out of sight of anyone but the two defendants and Mr Petch; and regardless of who did first pick up the baseball bat; what people saw happening outside the flat on the balcony is not self-defence.

“It was a brutal, merciless attack on Mr Petch that knocked him to the ground and then continued when he was on the ground with the stamps to the head.”

Miss Gilmartin and Mr Lodge both deny murder.

The trial continues.

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