THE night before Cherri Gilmartin and her partner allegedly murdered David Petch, she visited the sister whose life was being "ruined" by drugs she believed Mr Petch was supplying, a court has heard. Gilmartin, 37, and had gone with her half-sister Gemma Field to see Laura Field after hearing that Laura's drug problems were deepening, the Old Bailey heard today. Laura's social worker had told Miss Field the day before that Laura had started using crack cocaine and heroin, a step beyond the long-term alcohol and cocaine abuse that had already landed her in psychiatric wards, jurors heard. Miss Field said they had driven to Laura's house in Orpington on the night of April 13 last year, adding: "We wanted to go over there; we wanted to see what was happening with my sister; I was worried." "To me, crack cocaine and heroin, it was a whole different ball game." Miss Field added she believed Mr Petch and Laura's ex-partner Richard Jones were supplying Laura with drugs. She said they did so from Mr Petch's home in Wayside, Fieldway, after Mr Jones' home had been raided by police. Gilmartin and Miss Field, who both lived near Mr Petch in New Addington, did not see Laura when they went to visit her, but spoke to her by phone from outside her house and heard she was going to bed. Laura, 33, was "slurring" her words, and "said she had not used but she had tried to get some," Miss Field added. The next evening, April 14, Gilmartin and her partner Jason Lodge, 39, went to see Mr Petch at his home before, prosecutors claim, beating him to death on the doorstep. The defendants both deny murder, agreeing they had gone to see Mr Petch but claiming he had attacked Lodge with the baseball bat he kept in his house. Miss Field told the court she had bumped into the defendants a few hours earlier, in the Man on the Moon pub in Headley Drive, and spoke to Gilmartin on the phone the next morning. She said by then word was spreading on the estate about what had happened to the well-known Mr Petch, and Mr Jones had warned the defendants should leave the estate in case of reprisals. Miss Field told the court: "She asked me who was after them and I said, 'What have you done?' and she said 'We have not beaten him up; it was self-defence. He came at Jason with a bat'." Asked why have you done this, Gilmartin replied "for my sister", Miss Field added. Another sister, Hayley Gilmartin, also told the Old Bailey today that Gilmartin had told her the incident was a case of "self-defence." Gilmartin and Lodge were arrested on April 17 2012 after they attended Croydon police station, having at first "fled" to Rye, East Sussex, prosecutors said. Mr Petch died the next day (April 18) in Croydon University Hospital, four days after the alleged attack in which Gilmartin is accused of beating him with a baseball bat and Lodge of stamping on his head. Gilmartin told police in her interview that had gone to see Mr Petch to tell him to stop dealing drugs to Laura, whose addiction was ruining her life. Laura had most recently been sectioned in March 2012, the court heard, after leaving her children at home alone in the middle of the night and crashing her car. At the time of the alleged murder, Miss Field was looking after Laura's children, now aged 13 and nine, alongside her own six. She and Gilmartin were both involved with trying to get Laura back on track and communicating with her social workers. Laura's children had also briefly stayed with Gilmartin and Lodge, who lived together in Uvedale Crescent and had seven children at the time, now eight. The court heard last week how 6.9 grams of cocaine were found in a locked box inside Mr Petch's flat after the 'attack,' and £300 in cash separately around the flat. Jurors were also shown today the baseball bat used in the incident, which contained spots of Lodge's blood. They were also shown a pair of jeans belonging to Lodge, which were stained with Mr Petch's blood. The trial, at the Old Bailey, is expected to last until June 28.
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