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Murder plot accused laughs in court

A man accused of being hired to murder a mother-of-five who was stabbed to death as she tended her horses in a New Forest field has laughed and joked in the witness box as he gave his evidence, denying that he killed her.

Pennie Davis, 47, who worked at a supermarket, was found dead by her husband, Peter Davis, in a field at Leygreen Farm, Beaulieu, Hampshire, on September 2 last year.

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 scene, Winchester Crown Court was told.

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

Richard Smith QC, prosecuting, has told the court that Carr paid Robertson £1,500 to murder Mrs Davis, who he feared would tell police of an accusation of indecent assault against him made by another person.

Robertson told the court that his only dealings with Carr had been about drugs and had not known anything about Mrs Davis until after her death and the day before he was arrested.

He admitted having regular mobile phone contact with his co-defendant but said this was because Carr owed him money.

He said: "Ben is very persuasive but he had me convinced I would get my money back."

Robertson said he borrowed other people's phones and also had a "beat the boss" phone which he explained was small enough to be smuggled in the buttocks into a prison.

When asked if it was difficult to use the small keys on the phone, Robertson laughed as he replied: "It's a pain in the arse, literally."

Robertson, who admits having been involved in drug deals and burglaries, added: "I use other people's phones all the time so the police can't catch me."

When asked if he knew the Beaulieu area, he described it as a "posh area" which he had targeted for his raids.

He said: "I robbed a butcher's shop out there, I robbed a clothes shop. It was rich people who didn't know how to protect it but I only steal things they could claim on their insurance and so didn't cost them."

Robertson also said he had "definitely not" conspired to murder Mrs Davis.

The court was told that Robertson had written down: "Theft I love it, drugs I love it, murder I hate it. I steal money, I don't harm people, I have never hurt a woman, never carried an offensive weapon."

Mr Smith has told the trial that Mrs Davis knew Carr because she had been in a relationship with his father, Timothy Carr, from about 2006 to 2012.

He said Carr had a "lasting hate and anger" towards Mrs Davis after she had made a complaint to the police about allegations of sexual assault against him when he was 14 years old.

He added that she had placed a message on Facebook a few days before her death stating that she was going to repeat the allegations to police.

Robertson told the court that he had gone to the area of Leygreen Farm on the day Mrs Davis died because he intended to burgle a neighbouring house.

When asked by his defence counsel Rupert Pardoe QC, how did he drive to the Beaulieu area, Robertson joked: "With my arms and legs."

He then told the court that he had driven a car loaned to him by co-defendant Maclean.

He said that he had not left the keys in the ignition when he went to look at the property he intended to raid but had hidden them within the car.

He said: "You're not going to leave the key in the ignition, I'm not that stupid."

And when asked if anyone had stolen a car from him in the past, he laughed and said: "No."

When asked why he had not burgled the house that day, he said: "A man came out from the house, I heard him coming out then it was time for me to go."

Robertson said that when he returned to his car, the key was missing and he said he did not know how it ended up in the field where Mrs Davis was killed and where it was later found by police.

He said that he then arranged for a friend to drive and pick him up and when asked if he was hiding in a bush when she arrived, he said: "Not hiding because how would she be able to pick me up."

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