COUNTY NEWS: Pair plotted to kill man on fishing trip, court hears

Taking him on a fishing trip and throwing his body overboard was one of the methods Colin Gale and Stewart Robertson discussed to '˜get rid of Mark Manning', a court has heard.

Monday, 16th January 2017, 6:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:45 pm
Former bomb disposal expert Mark Manning SUS-140617-144513001

They also thought about shooting him with a crossbow in a remote location, a jury at Lewes Crown Court heard today.

The court was shown footage of a police interview in May 2015 with Stewart Robertson’s son, Sean Robertson, now 17, in which he was asked about his relationship with his father.

Colin Gale, of Offington Lane in Worthing, is charged with murdering Lancing bomb disposal expert Mark Manning. Stewart Robertson, of St Aubyn’s Road, Fishersgate, is charged with preventing the lawful burial of a body.

In the interview, conducted at Sussex House in Brighton, Mr Robertson told Detective Sergeant Amanda Stroud about how he would go motor biking on the South Downs with his father and Colin Gale.

Asked about Gale, he said: “I thought he was an alright bloke. I know he was in debt up to his eyeballs. He spoke of it openly in front of my dad and me.

“He was cursing how he could not pay Mark back on specific dates. I am sure it was tens of thousands to Mark specifically.”

Mr Robertson told D.S. Stroud how his relationship with his father broke down after Mark Manning was reported missing.

“He was ok at times and then he was completely not himself,” he said in the interview.

He told the detective: “I think Colin [Gale] convinced my dad to get rid of Mark Manning for him in return for something.

“Colin and my dad spoke of getting rid of Mark because of what Colin owed,” he said, telling the detective they discussed it multiple times over several months before Mr Manning went missing.

His father and Gale discussed taking Mr Manning out on a ‘fishing trip’ on Mr Manning’s boat, where they would kill him before weighing down his body and throwing it overboard, Mr Robertson said in the interview.

They also talked about taking him to ‘Findon or somewhere’ and shooting him with a crossbow in a car, he told D.S. Stroud.

“They were serious. It was not a joke,” Mr Robertson said, telling the detective that his father had sworn him to secrecy.

“I did not know what to think. Part of me wanted to believe they were just fantasising.

“Part of me did think my dad would be cold enough and heartless enough to do that,” he added.

“I was scared of him.”

Mr Robertson also told the detective that his father and Colin Gale said Mr Manning had been doing business with some ‘Cambodians’ and that they ‘probably had him because of a deal that went wrong.’

“It just sounded like a story to throw everybody off the mark,” he said.

Michael Bromley-Martin QC, representing Colin Gale, queried many of the dates which Sean Robertson referred to, and asked him during cross-examination whether the discussions about killing Mr Manning had just been ‘banter’.

The trial, which is expected to last a further two weeks, continues.

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