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Jury convicts Foster Christian in Canterbury double murder trial

A jury has convicted a man accused of a double murder and wounding two others.

Foster Christian, 54, fatally stabbed Simon Gorecki and Natasha Sadler-Ellis and injured her soldier son Connaugh Harris and a 16-year-old boy, Maidstone Crown Court has heard.

Jurors heard how a row over the temperature of a shower led to a bloody scene at shared accommodation in Canterbury.

Foster Christian
Foster Christian

Mr Gorecki, had been taking the shower when Christian turned on a tap in the kitchen and caused the temperature to change.

When Mr Gorecki shouted out Christian responded “**** off you mug”.

Soon afterwards, he is alleged to have fatally wounded both Mr Gorecki, 48, and 40-year-old Natasha Sadler-Ellis and seriously injured Mr Harris, 20, and the teenager who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Today the jury found Christian guilty of both murders, and wounding the teenager with intent.

But he was found not guilty of a similar charge involving Mr Harris, finding him guilty of the lesser charge of unlawfully wounding him.

Christian grinned as the first guilty verdict to murder was returned. He sat casually in the dock and showed no other reaction.

Friends and family of the victims hugged each other outside court. Mr Harris simply said: "Good result."

Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC said Mr Gorecki, who was 5ft 6in tall, was stabbed five times - four of the wounds being to his back.

Ms Sadler-Ellis, who was the same height, had several wounds, one of which entered above her left eyebrow and “followed down” inside her lower jaw.

Natasha Sadler-Ellis
Natasha Sadler-Ellis

Mr Gorecki, a former fishmonger at the Goods Shed in Canterbury, died as a result of a collapsed right lung and Ms Sadler-Ellis from a wound to her heart.

Mr Bennetts said at the time of the shower incident at about 7pm on March 29 this year Connaugh was at his mother’s home.

He heard sounds of abuse and went with the boy to the house in Dickens Avenue.

When they arrived Christian was in his room there. Mum-of-three Ms Sadler-Ellis, who was educated at Hartsdown School in Margate, and Mr Gorecki were downstairs.

Simon Gorecki
Simon Gorecki

“Connaugh tried to calm the situation,” Mr Bennetts told the all-male jury. “It appeared for a moment there was calm.

“Foster Christian then shouted further abuse. Natasha went to his room.”

She was followed by Mr Gorecki, Mr Harris and the teenager.

There was pushing and shoving between Christian and Ms Sadler-Ellis. Mr Harris tried to intervene, but was struck by Christian.

Foster Christian
Foster Christian

The teenager punched Christian, who then retaliated with a knife covered by a plastic bag, said Mr Bennetts.

When the police arrived at 7.40pm, the teenager was lying at the top of the driveway, having been given first aid by Mr Harris.

Ms Sadler-Ellis was on the floor at the threshold of the kitchen and hallway at the base of the stairs near the front door.

Mr Gorecki was on the floor in the kitchen. Mr Harris had tried help his mother and carried out CPR on Mr Gorecki.

Police at the scene in Dickens Avenue, Canterbury
Police at the scene in Dickens Avenue, Canterbury

A police officer saw Christian, who had a bleeding cut above his right eye, walking down the stairs speaking on his phone.

He claimed: “They attacked me with a knife. I got it off them and fought back. They were hitting me and attacking me. They took the knife back.”

Mr Bennetts said the teenager had a wound to his right forearm, a superficial injury to his right thigh and a cut to his abdomen.

There was also a large bleed to the iliac vein which returns blood from the leg to the heart, and a 3cm hole in his large bowel. After surgery at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, he was transferred to intensive care.

Emergency crews at the scene in Dickens Avenue. Picture: @Kent_999s
Emergency crews at the scene in Dickens Avenue. Picture: @Kent_999s

Mr Harris was taken to the same hospital and treated for his wounds.

Naomi Toro, 36, arrived at the house and was seen by a police officer to leave with the knife used to inflict the injuries.

When arrested on March 30 she took officers to where she had thrown the weapon into the River Stour from the King Street bridge.

Christian denied two charges of murder and two of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and alternative charges of manslaughter and unlawful wounding, claiming he acted in self-defence.

He will be sentenced on Wednesday with Naomi Toro, 36, and Samantha Groombridge, 19, who had admitted assisting an offender by taking a knife from the scene and “impeding the prosecution of a person who committed murder”.

Mother-of-three Toro, of Keyworth Mews on the Brymore Estate, Canterbury, was remanded in custody at her own request.

Groombridge, who has a young child, was bailed to an address in Downs Road.

It was stated at a previous hearing that Toro had been living at her mother’s home in Blackberry Way, Whitstable.

Jurors had not been told about the guilty pleas.

The judge, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith told them: "When the case started I said you would have to make one of the most important decisions of your life. It is a burdensome duty"

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