Jury told Full Sutton murder accused was ‘like a cornered feral animal’

Peter Battle
Peter Battle

The accused killer of antiques dealer Peter Battle had behaved like a “cornered feral animal” in a case which was “a reminder of the human capacity for chilling inhumanity,” a jury heard.

Graham Richardson was a “cold hearted cold blooded murderer” trying “quite literally to get away with murder,” it was claimed at the trial’s closing speeches on Friday.

It has been alleged heroin user Richardson, 27, murdered 56-year-old Mr Battle at his home in Full Sutton, near Pocklington, then returned to loot valuables while his victim lay dead for five weeks.

Richardson alone is on trial for murdering Mr Battle but says he and heroin dealer Darren Archer hatched the plot to rob him between them, a claim which Archer denies.

Richardson claims he found Mr Battle already dead after seeing Archer and three masked men fleeing the cottage with bags of loot.

Archer is also accused with his cousin Peter Egan of robbing York gold dealer Michael Cleaver with Richardson three weeks before the murder.

Prosecutor Nicholas Lumley said: “These are shocking and disturbing allegations; two wholly innocent men, targeted, the victims of serious crime.

“One got off lightly - physically, at least. The other was brutally killed in his own home and left - just left.

“The trial has been a reminder of the human capacity, particularly in the case of Graham Richardson, for chilling inhumanity.”

He said Richardson had “gone after men who trusted him, who had been straight with him” and “betrayed that trust without a moment’s hesitation – or apparent regret.”

In Mr Battle’s case, Richardson had “inflicted such pain and then, as if nothing had happened, for days and for weeks, looted and robbed the home where he lay.

“The case has been a reminder, in the case of Richardson, of the human capacity for self-preservation - to fight like a feral animal backed into a corner.”

Glenn Parsons, defending Archer, claimed Richardson was an “accomplished liar” out to “frame” Archer - “a perfectly innocent man” - for the murder.

He said: “Richardson is a cold-hearted murderer who has taken a life and now wants to take part of the life of Darren Archer in an attempt to quite literally get away with murder.”

Mr Parsons argued Richardson had been “trapped” since December 30 last year when he left his DNA at the crime scene along with other clues such as phone calls, footprints, and blood on the cottage door handle.

“If there was a plan he (Richardson) would not have been so stuck as he is now,” Mr Parsons continued.

“There was no planning whatsoever in this case.”

The court has heard Richardson plundered the cottage of gold, silver, coins and antiques while Mr Battle lay dead.

Mr Parsons added: “It’s chilling when you think about it - day after day, week after week going back to that cottage.

“What he (Richardson) is trying to do is distract totally away from that.”

He told the jury Archer had been portrayed as a “criminal genius” during the case and “cold and calculating”.

But he suggested Archer had cut a different figure while on trial - falling asleep in the dock and walking into a pillar outside the court, cutting his head open.

Barrister David Dixon, for Egan, dismissed the case against his client as “a pantomime”.

He described Richardson as “a cold hearted, cold blooded, callous murderer”, adding: “What the Battle family have gone through is a tragedy.”

The jury is expected to retire to consider its verdict today.

Richardson, 27, of Riverside View, Norton, denies murdering Mr Battle.

Archer, 43, of Nunnery Lane, and Egan, 47, formerly of Walmgate, both York, deny robbing Mr Cleaver.

The judge’s summing up of the case will take place today (mon), after which the jury will retire to consider its verdict.