Polegate and Seaford women sentenced after death of Eastbourne man

Sentenced for Eastbourne man's murder. Hayley Whittaker (left) and Rossi Henderson (right).
Sentenced for Eastbourne man's murder. Hayley Whittaker (left) and Rossi Henderson (right).

A Polegate and a Seaford woman have been sentenced for their roles leading up to the violent death of a man in an Eastbourne street, police have said.

Lee Molineau, 46, of no fixed address, died at Hurstwood Park neurological unit in Haywards Heath in July last year after being assaulted seven days earlier.

The duo, along with another man, appeared for trial at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday (April 22).

All three were charged with murder but entered guilty pleas to lesser offences, which were accepted by the prosecution and the court, police said.

Rossi Henderson, 25, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

Hayley Whittaker, 23, of Honeycrag Lane, Polegate, also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Ruby Heard, 26, of Lexden Drive, Seaford, whose murder charge was dropped by the prosecution at an earlier hearing, but who pleaded not guilty to affray, changed her plea to guilty on Tuesday before her trial began.

She was sentenced to eight months in prison but had already served her sentence while on remand in custody.

Lee suffered a serious head injury following an argument between him and the two women in Seaside Road, Eastbourne, during which Henderson intervened and punched the victim to the ground. Whittaker then kicked Lee, police said.

Police said he hit his head on the pavement or wall and broke his skull, causing injuries from which he never recovered.

Detective Superintendent Ian Pollard of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, who led the investigation, said; “On a busy street that evening a chance encounter between people hardly known to each other led to an alcohol-fuelled petty argument, which in turn escalated into unwarranted acts of violence, and tragically culminated in an innocent man losing his life.”

In a statement Lee’s sister-in-law Kay Perkins, speaking on behalf of the family, who were in court, said; “We would like to thank everyone who have supported us over the last 8 months, especially Detective Constable Jo Barber who has been our rock throughout. We couldn’t have got through this without her support. Although it will not bring Lee back we feel that justice has been done and appropriate sentences have been given. We can now try to move on and rebuild our lives.”