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Roy Blackman murder trial: Accused Mark Love insists he played no part in Biddenden burglary


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A man accused of murdering an elderly businessman at his home and committing a violent burglary at the house of a champion clay pigeon marksman will maintain his innocence, his barrister declared.

Justin Rouse QC said Mark Love would not challenge most of the evidence during his trial. But he added: “What we don’t accept is who did it.”

Mr Rouse was addressing the jury to explain Love’s defence after the prosecution opening of the case.

Roy Blackman was bludgeoned to death
Roy Blackman was bludgeoned to death

The 38-year-old, of Frittenden Road, Staplehurst, denies murdering garage owner and bird breeder Roy Blackman and aggravated burglary at the home of George and Kate Digweed in Northiam, Rye, east Sussex.

He is alleged to have been part of a gang that beat 73-year-old Mr Blackman to death at his bungalow in Headcorn Road, Biddenden, during the night of March 20 and raided the Digweeds’ house a month earlier.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Mr Blackman - described as “old school”, dealing only in cash - was stripped naked and brutally beaten after he is thought to have interrupted burglars.

They left him dying in the living and dining area as they fled with a safe containing up to £250,000.

Police on the scene at Heartsay Bungalow, Biddenden after the discovery of Roy Blackman's body
Police on the scene at Heartsay Bungalow, Biddenden after the discovery of Roy Blackman's body

Prosecutor Simon Taylor said another man, William Smith, 36, - who was shot dead by police - was also involved in the offences.

“It may well have been, had he been alive, William Smith would have been in the dock alongside Mr Love,” he added.

Mr Rouse told jurors in his opening address: “You will hear from a number of witnesses and there will be no questions from the defence.

“Mark Love says: ‘I am an innocent man. I accept the evidence put before you, I am not going to argue, most of it is right and true.’ But, in fact, there are certain matters he does dispute.”

Police made arrests in connection with the murder of Roy Blackman
Police made arrests in connection with the murder of Roy Blackman

“Mark Love fundamentally accepts the case that the prosecution present, as far as what actually happened. What we don’t accept is who did it.”

It was even possible, he said, that just one person, rather than a gang, burgled Mr Blackman’s home and committed “an appalling crime against a decent man”.

Mr Rouse said the defence did not shirk from the fact Love’s DNA was at both properties.

But he added the jury would have to decide whether he took it there himself, or if it was left there by someone else as a result of what scientists call “secondary transfer”.

Flowers and tributes to grandfather Roy Blackman at his funeral
Flowers and tributes to grandfather Roy Blackman at his funeral

“Mr Love denies any involvement in what happened to Mr Blackman and, to paraphrase what he said, he simply doesn’t have it in him to kill anyone and is at a loss to know how his DNA came to be at those premises,” said the QC.

It was not disputed that Smith, who had been spending time with Love at his lock-up, was one of the four men.

He also said Smith was “quite lawfully” shot by police.

The jury, barristers and Judge Philip Statman visited both crime scenes today.

The trial continues.

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