A DENBY DALE man accused of shooting two drug dealers before burning and burying their bodies on a remote Cornish farm had talked about killing the pair days before they were killed, a court heard today.
Thomas Haigh had acted as a drugs mule for Brett Flournoy and David Griffiths on a previous occasion, bringing cocaine into the UK from Brazil, but was scared he would get caught if he went again, his co-accused Ross Stone told their double murder trial.
Stone, 28, giving evidence in his own defence, said Haigh, 26, had told him a friend was in a South American prison after being caught on a drugs run and feared the same fate if he travelled abroad.
He told the jury at Truro Crown Court that after unsuccessfully attempting to fob the pair off by claiming he had lost his passport, Haigh began to talk of killing them after learning they were coming to Cornwall to see him, a few days before the prosecution say the pair died at Stone's farm near St Austell.
"At the time it sounded like desperation," Stone said.
"There were so many flaws with it that it just sounded stupid.
"I thought it was hot air, stress relief. I didn't take it any other way at the time."
The badly burned bodies of Mr Griffiths, a father of three originally from Plymouth but living in Bracknell, Berkshire, and Mr Flournoy, a boxer and father of two from Bebington, Wirral, Merseyside, were found dumped in the back of a van buried at Sunny Corner farm, Trenance Downs, in July last year. They had both been shot.
Stone said he became involved with the "daunting" pair, whom it has been claimed worked for an IRA-linked drugs gang in Liverpool, after trying to help a friend who owned Griffiths money.
But he, like Haigh, ended up owing them between s30,000 and s40,000 after a bag containing more than 4kg of drugs including cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA, which he was sent without asking for, went missing from his home on New Year's Eve in 2010.
He said he faced constant death threats against him and his family from the pair, who would ring him on his mobile telephone "every 10-15 minutes".
He even borrowed money from his mother and allowed the pair to turn his home into a cocaine processing plant, supplying users in Cornwall.
In April last year, he told the court, Griffiths and Flournoy arrived unannounced at the home of his partner Laura's parents, hours after she had given birth to their second child, a daughter, because he turned his phone off while they were in the labour ward.
They brought with them Haigh, who they said was to help Stone with cannabis plants he was growing to pay off his debt. He lived with Stone for the next six weeks, the Cornishman having moved his family out of the house months previously because of the death threats.
"I received threats from the first day," Stone told the court, describing how Griffiths and Flournoy were among five people, mainly Liverpudlians, who would ring him constantly.
"The majority to start with were aimed at me, shooting someone or coming down and putting me in the boot and taking me up the M5 (motorway).
"They told me I would have to rob a bank, they told me to get my mum and dad to sell their house, to get a loan. They said I would have to go abroad to get drugs."
He admitted he had a shotgun, borrowed illegally from a neighbour, in the house at the time of the shooting, but denied firing it, saying he borrowed it in case a ferocious, 12-stone bull mastiff the pair brought as a guard dog got loose.
Haigh, formerly of Huddersfield, and Stone, from St Austell, both deny two counts of murder. Stone admits obstructing a coroner by burying the bodies.