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David Petch witness insists: 'I did see attack'

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A WITNESS in the trial over the alleged murder of David Petch has insisted she did see the attack on the 55-year-old, telling jurors: "If I had not seen this incident, I would not be here." Under tense cross-examination today, Katie Recknall stuck to her account of yesterday that she had seen the defendants attack the father-of-nine on the balcony doorstep of his home in Wayside, Fieldway. The mother-of-two, who lived next door to Mr Petch, told jurors she saw from her bedroom window Cherri Gilmartin hit Mr Petch with a baseball bat and Jason Lodge stamp on his head. Partners Gilmartin, 37, and Lodge, 39, who lived together in Uvedale Crescent, also in New Addington, deny murdering Mr Petch on April 14 last year, claiming self-defence. Facing suggestions from defence lawyer Jeremy Dein QC that her account was incorrect, Miss Recknall insisted: "I saw the incident take place. I saw her hit him with the bat and I saw him stamp on his face." The defence suggests there was a "moving struggle" between Mr Petch and Lodge on the doorstep, while Gilmartin has denied hitting Mr Petch with the baseball bat at all. The mum-of-eight said in her police interview that Mr Petch had used the baseball bat he kept at home to attack Lodge. She and Lodge had gone to see him to tell him to stop dealing cocaine to her sister, she said. Mr Petch died four days later from severe head injuries that a pathologist has concluded were caused by stamping, prosecutors have said. The jury was also played this morning a tape of the 999 call Miss Recknall made to get an ambulance for Mr Petch. She is heard telling the call-handler: "What it is, is a man has been, well I think he has been hit with something and he is lying on the floor, I have just woken up." A few seconds later, she said: "He is after getting hit with a baseball bat. Right now, and he is diabetic as well," adding that the man looked in his thirties or forties. Jurors were told Miss Recknall had been at home earlier that evening with her partner, John Nolan, and her two children when Gilmartin banged on the door, demanding to see Mr Petch. Miss Recknall said Gilmartin seemed drunk and was asking "Where's Petty", and that she and Mr Nolan had closed the door after a brief exchange. She said it was about an hour later that she heard a bang, prompting her to open her window and see the attack. She insisted she had not been asleep despite telling the 999 centre she had just woken-up, adding that she was "in a panic" when she made the call. She added: "The man was lying on the floor and he needed medical help urgently." She said she did not know Mr Petch, but is heard during the 999 call saying she knew he was diabetic because her "friend" [her partner] had approached him. The trial also started to hear this morning from Mr Nolan about his recollections of April 14. He told jurors he had heard a knock on the door at around 11pm and had opened the door to see the defendants outside. He said: "The girl was saying that she was looking for someone but I cannot remember the name. "She mentioned the name to me; she asked me if I was that person." He added: "To me they looked like they might have been homeless people or something. "They were giving me that sort of vibe. "I don't remember the man as much but the girl looked as if she was either on drugs or was a drug-taker." He added he remembered having "heated words" with the pair over their knocking so late, but could not remember exactly what. Mr Nolan also told jurors that he had been "worried" about Miss Recknall living in the block, to where she had been moved by the council a few months before. He had seen people dealing drugs on the stairwells, he added. He is expected to continue giving evidence after the lunch break, at 2pm.

David Petch witness insists: 'I did see attack'


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