Crawley murder accused ‘beat up man and filmed the aftermath’, court hears

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A Crawley man accused of murder beat up a man and filmed the aftermath, a court heard.

Daniel Palmer, 24, of Maunsell Park, Station Hill, Three Bridges, appeared at Lewes Crown Court today (Wednesday July 23) charged with murdering Joao Esteves.

Palmer, who has pleaded not guilty to murder, was dressed in a dark suit and remained impassive throughout the proceedings.

Paul Valder, prosecuting, alleged Palmer put a cord from the hoodie top he was wearing around Mr Esteves’s neck and phoned a friend to ask him to come with petrol so Palmer could get rid of evidence of his DNA.

The jury heard the sequence of events leading up to the early hours of Sunday January 19 when Mr Esteves was beaten up and later died in hospital.

Mr Esteves, 45, arrived at Gatwick Airport from Portugal on January 15 to look for work in England.

On January 17 he was back at the airport after being unsuccessful in finding work and was allowed to stay overnight while he waited for his uncle to buy him a return ticket back to Portugal.

The next day police spoke to him and told him he could not stay overnight at the airport and gave him details of the Open House homeless shelter in Crawley.

He arrived at Open House at about 9:45pm and was told there was no bed available. He was given food and bedding and told to return to the shelter the following morning.

Mr Esteves went to the Snooty Fox pub for a drink with another man from the homeless hostel after leaving his bags at a Three Bridges church.

He left the pub at 12.14am on Sunday January 19.

Two people saw him drinking whisky at the church at around 2am.

The court heard Daniel Palmer had been out drinking with a friend at Legends bar in Crawley High Street just before 8pm and was thrown out just before 11pm after he punched another customer.

Palmer and his friend went on to the Jubilee Oak pub, the Swan pub and back to a mutual friend’s house. He left at 1.20am.

The court was shown CCTV from Vines BMW showroom on Stephenson Way, near Haslett Avenue in Three Bridges.

It showed that at 2.11am a man, thought to be Daniel Palmer, was walking along Haslett Avenue towards Three Bridges train station.

Prosecutor Mr Valder said: “Sometime after there must have been a coming together of the two.”

He said it was not clear what happened

The court was shown a video taken at 2.38am from the car park at Kwik-Fit in Stephenson Way which the prosecution said showed Mr Esteves lying on the floor.

The video also recorded a man, who the prosecution said was Palmer, telling Mr Esteves to “Get up”.

CCTV footage was played to the court from Vines BMW showroom at 2.44am of two men heading back towards Crawley Town Centre.

Mr Valder alleged Palmer “frogmarched” Mr Esteves to an alleyway where he beat him.

Mr Valder told the court: “Palmer encountered Joao Esteves in the street in Three Bridges in the early hours of Sunday, January 19 of this year.

“Palmer had been drinking and Mr Esteves, the indications show, was himself very drunk.

“Something happened at that initial encounter because he filmed Mr Esteves on his mobile phone.

“Palmer then frogmarched Mr Esteves some 400 metres up the road, took him up an alleyway and there he beat Mr Esteves and the prosecution say at some stage put a cord around his neck and pulled it tight.”

Further photographs were found on Palmer’s phone showing Mr Esteves on the floor. Another showed Mr Esteves with a white cord around his neck.

Records from Palmer’s phone reveal he called the partner of the friend he was out with earlier.

The court heard he asked to talk to his friend and said: “I’ve hit someone and they’re not moving.

“A bloke came at me with a knife and I hit him and he’s not moving.”

It was alleged he asked his friend to meet him and bring some petrol.

“My DNA is all over him”, added Palmer, according to the transcript of the phone call.

His friend said he did not have any petrol and advised Palmer to walk away from the scene.

Further CCTV footage from 3.19am showed Palmer walking back towards Three Bridges train station.

Mr Esteves, 45, from Lisbon, in Portugal, was found lying unconscious in an alleyway with serious head injuries at 3.25am on January 19.

Paramedics were able to start his heart again but only for a short time. He was taken to hospital but died later that day.

The trial, which is expected to last between three and four weeks, continues on Thursday.