COUNTY NEWS: Father killed by man who owed him £20,000, prosecutors say

Police officers told the court of their involvement in the investigation
Police officers told the court of their involvement in the investigation

Father Mark Manning was killed after a man who owed him money ‘hit him over the head’ and decided to ‘finish him off’, a court heard today.

Colin Gale, 40, appeared at Lewes Crown Court today, where he is on trial for the murder of bomb disposal expert Mark Manning.

Gale, a father-of-four who lives in Offington Lane in Worthing, denies murdering Lancing father Mr Manning.

Another man, Stewart Robertson, 51, of St Aubyns Road, Fishersgate, has pleaded not guilty to preventing the lawful burial of a body, a crime Gale himself admitted to yesterday.

Prosecutors say human remains identified as Mr Manning were discovered last year near Hampshire Hill, Slaugham, more than 20 miles away and two years after he was last seen on Saturday, April 19, 2014.

In his opening statement, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told the jury how Gale claimed in previous statements he had driven Mr Manning to Worthing train station on the day he disappeared.

However, referring to data from mobile phone towers in the area, he told the court that ‘Mr Manning’s telephone did not enter the Worthing area’.

He also referred to the testimony of Gale’s ex-wife Chloe Birchley, to whom he was married at the time of the disappearence.

Mr Atkinson told jurors Gale had spoken to her about Mr Manning’s disappearence the next day, Sunday, April 20.

“I had something to do with it. I did it,” Gale told Ms Birchley, according to her statement, parts of which were read out in court by the prosecution.

The next month, while on a family holiday at Camber Sands, Gale told Ms Birchley more about what had happened, Mr Atkinson said.

Gale whisphered to her that he had owed Mr Manning £20,000 and had been supposed to pay him back on the Saturday, but didn’t have the money, she said in her statement, according to the prosecution.

Mr Atkinson told the court that Gale admitted to his wife that he had an argument with Mr Manning and ‘hit him over the head’.

The prosecution quoted Gale as telling Ms Birchley: “If you are going to do something you had better do it properly. I had to finish him off.”

The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.

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