COUNTY NEWS: Police officer tells court how body was found

'It is not local or in water and only two of us could find it.'

Police officers told the court of their involvement in the investigation
Police officers told the court of their involvement in the investigation

The trial looking into the death of Mark Manning from Lancing continued today, with police officers telling the court of their involvement in the investigation.

Colin Gale, 40, of Offington Lane in Worthing is charged with murdering Mr Manning with another man, Stewart Robertson 51, charged with preventing the lawful burial of a body.

Detective sergeant Gary Tattersall appeared at Lewes Crown Court this morning as a witness for the prosection.

He told the jury that Robertson, of St Aubyns Road, Fishersgate, called him in March last year and asked to meet to discuss his options, and described the several meetings that followed.

Meeting in a cafe near Portslade railway station a few days after the call, D.S. Tattershall said Stewart Robertson told him that he was one of only two people who knew where the body of Mark Manning was.

“It is not local or in water and only two of us could find it. There is no way someone could accidentally find him,” he reported Robertson saying.

According to the detective, Robertson communicated that the other person described was Gale.

D.S. Tattershall explained to the court that he had told Robertson that advances in forensic technology might result in him being charged. To this he said Robertson replied: “I won’t be as I did not kill him or touch his body.”

Later in the same meeting, Robertson said: “I know enough to give Colin [Gale] years inside,” according to the detective.

At a later meeting the following month D.S. Tattershall said Robertson was keen to stress he was not present for either the killing or the removal of the body.

“I know what happened as Colin has told me. I had nothing to do with the murder,” Robertson said according to the detective.

Appearing in the dock in the courtroom today, Robertson kept his head bowed during large portions of the police officers’ testimony.

Investigating officer Michael Birkenshaw was also called as a witness, who told the court of how the police came to find Mr Manning’s body.

Mr Birkenshaw interviewed Robertson at Eastbourne Custody Centre in May last year, he said, after Robertson had been arrested.

Robertson was asked a number of questions about the location of the body, who said he had been told where it was, according to the officer.

“I can’t guarantee that the body is there because I do not know. I have never seen it. I have been told it is in a certain place,” said Robertson, according to Mr Birkenshaw.

Mr Birkenshaw told the court how himself, Mr Robertson and two other officers had driven in an unmarked vehicle toward the location Robertson had described.

They drove towards Slaugham and, after some changes of direction, arrived at a spot where Robertson said: “This looks like he [Gale] described”, according to Mr Birkenshaw.

Underwear, a gin bottle, and human remains were discovered nearby, Mr Birkenshaw told the court.

Colin Gale has pleaded not guilty to murder but admitted a charge of preventing the lawful burial of a body.

Stewart Robertson has pleaded not guilty to preventing the lawful burial of a body.

The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.

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