COUNTY NEWS: Killer lied about self-defence, court hears

The man who killed Mark Manning invented the story that he acted in self-defence, the prosecutor told his trial.

Former bomb disposal expert Mark Manning SUS-140617-144513001
Former bomb disposal expert Mark Manning SUS-140617-144513001

Colin Gale, 40, who on Monday admitted to killing Mark Manning, continued giving evidence at Lewes Crown Court today.

Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, told the court that Gale had plenty of opportunities in the years since Lancing father Mark Manning Manning disappeared to come forward and say that he had killed him in self defence, but had not.

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Mr Manning was last seen alive on April 19, 2014, with his body not found for over two years.

Worthing beach

Gale has pleaded not guilty to his murder. Another man, Stewart Robertson, 51, denies preventing the lawful burial of a body.

On Monday Gale told the court that Mr Mannnig had come at him with an axe and that he had picked up a Stillson wrench which he ‘swung in his [Manning’s] direction to keep him away’.

Gale said he had hit Mr Manning three times in total, claiming he had been scared that he was going to be seriously injured by the axe.

Questioning Gale today, Mr Atkinson said: “You have told us you had done what you had done because he [Manning] had an axe.

“To explain to the police what happened you would need to tell them about the axe.

“An axe that had been held by Mark Manning might have fingerprints on it to show that he had come at you and attacked you.

“So you got rid of it?” he asked Gale, referring to Gale’s assertions on Monday that he had taken the axe and the wrench, wrapped them in a pink towel, and thrown them away in Ringmer Road.

“That does not make any kind of sense does it?” Mr Atkinson said.

Mr Atkinson asked Gale if he had ever returned to the site in Ringmer Road where he had disposed of the weapons.

Gale replied: “When it had turned to a murder inquiry I went to retrieve the weapons to dispose of them and when I got there the pink towel was there and the axe was there and the Stillson [wrench] had gone.

Asked what had happened to the axe, Gale said: “I threw it off Worthing Pier.”

Mr Atkinson said: “The axe was your proof that Mr Manning had had a weapon but you threw it in the sea at a time you knew it was a murder investigation?”

Gale confirmed that was what happened.

Mr Atkinson also asked Gale about a police questioning on May 6, 2015, the day Gale was arrested on suspicion of murdering Mr Manning:

“You understood did you not that this was your chance finally to tell them what had happened and you didn’t,” Mr Atkinson told Gale, who agreed that was what happened.

“Mr Gale they gave you every opportunity if you were truly acting to defend yourself. They asked you again and again: ‘Were you acting in self defence?’.

“Why not tell them if that were true?,” he asked Gale.

Gale said his legal advisor at the time had told him not to.

Mr Atkinson said: “What you have done, Mr Gale, is take the evidence and shape your account around it.”

“You recognised that a way to escape from your debts to Mark Manning was if Mark Manning was not there anymore,” he told Gale, who said this was not true.

The trial continues.