Bournemouth EchoRico Dardis murder trial - day two coverage (From Bournemouth Echo)

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Rico Dardis murder trial - day two coverage

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  • THE trial of two men accused of murdering Rico Dardis continues at Winchester Crown Court today.
  • Homeless Paul Mark Gerlach, 51, and 50-year-old Louis Borzoni, of Hamilton Road, Boscombe, have denied killing the 30-year-old on Monday, May 27 last year.
  • The body of Mr Dardis, 30, of Hawkwood Mews, Boscombe, was discovered near groynes at Seaway Avenue, Friar’s Cliff, Christchurch.
  • His cause of death was recorded by a coroner as drowning, and he also suffered injuries caused by a boat propeller.
  • Police were first alerted to the incident by members of the public, who said they had seen two men acting suspiciously in a boat.

12:57pm

And that's it for the day. The court will not sit this afternoon and the case is adjourned until 10.30 on Wednesday morning.

12:56pm

He then left his boat before returning later at approximately 5pm. The No Chance was gone, but a small dingy remained in its place.

That concludes this witness's evidence.

12:52pm

The witness owns a boat which is moored about 15 yards away from No Chance.

He says he has "never seen anyone on it before [May 27]" but he saw three men aboard that day.

He said they were behaving "unpleasantly", and were drinking and playing loud music.

 

12:48pm

The witness confirms he thought both if the older males were "quite incapacitated through drink".

That's it for Mr Arnold's evidence.

Likely to be the final witness for today, which is going to be shorter than usual, is John Oates.

 

12:44pm

"We saw no more of them from the time we cast off," he says.

No more questions from the prosecution, but one of the barristers from the defence is now cross-examining the witness

12:41pm

He says the younger male remained seated during this incident.

When Mr Arnold was picked up by his son-in-law he saw that things had settled down.

He couldn't tell what they were doing but they were preparing to cast off, he recalls

12:39pm

The witness was then able to hear raised voices from the two older males.

"The yonger male seemed to remain quietly sat," he recalls.

"The heated conversation escalated into what I would call a tussle. Not a fight exactly but where one of the older males was restraining the second from raising his arms."

12:38pm

He recalls that the male who had always been in the tender ended up "stretched" between the small dinghy and the larger boat.

"Certainly it wasn't a skilful transfer from one boat to the other," the witness says.

He says half of the man's body ended up in the water as he attempted to climb up.

12:35pm

Both men then climbing into the tender and proceeded to the boat moored on the Quomps, he says.

He later saw a younger man on the boat, he says.

The older men in the tender were "struggling" and says "both gentlemen were slightly inebriated".

"They made a very big struggle of climbing onto the main boat from the dinghy"

12:33pm

This was said by the man on the quay to the man in the boat.

He was "slightly agitated", the witness said 

12:32pm

However, the witness did manage to hear words that he believes were: "I can't stand the man, I'm off".

He is passed the statement he made to police, and is able to clarify further that one of the men said "I know he's family but I've had enough, I'm off"

12:30pm

Mr Arnold waited for Mr Soper to sort his boat on the quayside.

He stood by the slipway and his attention was drawn to a man in a dinghy and a second man waiting on the quayside.

He heard the two men talking to each other although heard "virtually none of the conversation" as he is hard of hearing 

12:27pm

The judge is asking Mr Soper about the low tide - the witness had a special GPS but says tide times and information is readily available.

The witness is stood down.

His father-in-law Edward Arnold now takes the stand

12:24pm

He last saw the men at 3.30pm.

He arrived back at his berth later that evening during a time of "unusually low tide" at about 7.30pm.

The neighbouring boat was not there when he returned, and he said as a result of the tide he thought the vessel might be "struggling" to return

12:21pm

He then heard the boat's engine start, and one of the men allegedly shouted: "We are the Christchurch pirates".

The witness says he was "surprised" that they started the boat as they were in "no fit state" to do so.

12:20pm

He says that his impression that day was that the men were "in no fit state to take a boat to sea".

In a statement given to police, he said there was a bit of an argument, and one of the older men said that someone was "ungrateful", adding: "You smoked my cigarettes, you drank my beer".

Shortly afterwards, the men had "a heated argument which resulted in them grappling and manhandling each other".

The witness is unable to say who was involved in this.

12:17pm

Two older men then arrived on the tender.

Mr Soper said they were "quite boisterous, quite loud".

He adds that there appeared to be a "kerfuffle" and one of the men slipped from the tender and became semi-immersed in the sea

12:13pm

The witness and his father-in-law planned to go fishing that day.

When Mr Soper reached his boat, the neighbouring boat was at its mooring.

As he rowed his tender past the boat, he saw a "young man sitting on the rear seat". He says he remembered thinking that the man looked a bit like Lewis Hamilton.

The witness said hello to the man and he nodded and smiled back.

12:09pm

In order to get to where the boars are moored owners require a tender - a small dinghy- to get there.

Mr Soper's boat was moored alongside Gerlach's boat. He says he doesn't know the owner of the boat but knew him by sight having met him on three or four occasions

12:08pm

The next witness to give live evidence is Anthony Soper.

Mr Soper owns a boat that is moored in the Christchurch Quay area.

On May 27 last year, he and his father-in-law were out on the boat.

 

12:04pm

That is the last Mrs Lamble saw of the men. The witness has now been released 

12:03pm

 Eventually, the dinghy drew up alongside a larger boat moored in the river and she saw the older man "very, very unsteadily" climbing into the bigger craft

12:00pm

The man towing the dingy appeared to be "slightly inebriated" she says.

The older man was "shouting at the man on the bank", the witness says.

The man on the quayside had a "staggering walk - not sure of his feet".

11:59am

Mrs Lamble is a "seasoned boat owner" herself and said the men in the boat "didn't look like they knew what they were doing".

She says they seemed to be "unsteady" and "moving around so the boat was rocking"

11:57am

Mrs Lamble was with her husband in the Quomps area of Christchurch at 2.30pm on May 27 last year.

As they were walking along the path by the edge of the river they saw two men in a boat and another man on the edge of the walkway towing the dinghy along.

11:55am

The jury are filing back into court after a short adjournment.

The evidence continues this morning with witness Deborah Lamble

11:39am

Short break now before the evidence resumes at 11.50am

11:38am

He said the men were not fighting or showing aggression at all when he saw them.

He said to his wife that he'd see enough and they should leave.

 

11:36am

The evidence of Mrs Thompson's husband is being read aloud to the court.

He said it looked like the two males on board the dinghy looked like "they might fall into the water".

He describes both men in his statement, and refers to the younger male as 'Rico'.

The younger man was rowing with one oar and the boat was turning in circles while the older man was trying to get the engine started 

11:32am

The last time the witness saw the men in the dinghy, they were getting on board a larger boat moored by the quay.

She said she doesn't know what happened to the men standing on the quayside, who was referred to as 'Louis'.

"He wasn't paralytic but I knew he'd had [a drink]," she said.

"He wasn't sober."

11:29am

She said to the man on the quayside: "I think they are crazy to be in that boat" and he replied that he had given up his space in the dinghy for the young man.

Mrs Thompson said the men in the dingy were "drawing quite a crowd" and it was "funny at first".

However, she said eventually people were beginning to think: "They shouldn't really be in that boat."

11:27am

She also spoke to a third man on the quayside. This man had had "a huge drink", she said.

When asked how she knew, she says: "you could smell it.

"His words were quite slurred."

She said the young man in the boat shouted out: "I've never been in a boat before", and the man on the quayside said to her: "It's normally me that goes out on the boat"

11:24am

An image of the dinghy is being shown to Mrs Thompson, and she is able to identify where she was standing.

She said she believes she was watching them for around 10 minutes, and at one point said to them "You're mad going out in that". She explains that she said this because: "It was all over the place and I thought they were going to tip out"

11:21am

One of the men, who she describes as "mixed race", was in his 20s, while the older man who had "white hair" was in his 50s, she thinks.

She says the engine wouldn't start and they began "bickering trying to decide how to get the engine started".

The older man had petrol in a can and he tried to pour that into the boat but "it went everywhere because it [the boat] was rocking - it was going all over the place," the witness says

11:20am

After their picnic, the family decided to go and feed the ducks.

Her attention was drawn to two men in a small dinghy who were "laughing and joking to begin with"

11:17am

Now Lisa Thompson will give live evidence.

On May 27 last year she was at home with her husband and children and they decided to go to Christchurch Quay for a picnic.

They arrived at about noon and parked near the Priory.

 

 

11:14am

Next statement to be read aloud from a man called James, who was acquainted with Gerlach.

He describes Gerlach's van, which the prosecution say was shown in the CCTV footage today

11:12am

We heard yesterday that Mr Dardis and Borzoni are not in fact related.

Jean says Borzoni told her he was going to his brother's funeral on May 28, the day after Mr Dardis's death

11:10am

Some witness statements will now be read out to the court by Hannah Squire for the prosecution.

The first of these was given by a lady called Jean, who has known Borzoni for two years.

She said he helps her with shopping sometimes as she has secondary agoraphobia.

She said his cousin Rico had turned up "out of the blue"

11:07am

The police had by now arrived at Mayors Mead car park where they discovered a bag they said was "suspicious".

At 2201 the van returns to the car park where is is stopped by an armed response vehicle.

Both Gerlach and Borzoni are then arrested.

That's it for this morning's CCTV evidence 

11:00am

CCTV footage from inside the Co-op is being shown.

Gerlach and Borzoni can be seen standing by the drinks aisle together.

The prosecutor, Michael Bowes QC, yesterday said the men spent between 10 and 12 minutes inside the shop

10:56am

By 2139, the prosecution says that Gerlach and Borzoni had taken a taxi back to their van and they then drive to Southbourne.

Footage is shown of the van driving across Tuckon Bridge and heading towards Co-op.

At 2142 the van pulls up outside the store.

10:54am

At 1634, Gerlach's boat - No Chance - is seen leaving the harbour.

Some time later from Avon Beach, three photos taken by a member of the public show Borzoni standing at the back of the boat, which has now washed ashore.

The next shot of the beached boat was taken at 2130 by a police officer, who also photographed the torso of Mr Dardis in the water 

10:50am

Shortly after 2pm, Gerlach is seen walking across the car park.

Then at 2.20pm, two men believed to be Gerlach and Mr Dardis are seen in an inflatable dinghy.

As well as the CCTV cameras, the court is being shown footage recorded on mobile phones by members of the public 

10:48am

The court is this morning being shown CCTV footage from the day Mr Dardis died.

At 1337 that day, a white van driven by defendant Gerlach enters Mayors Mead car park. The jury are shown a series of clips of the van going up and down the slipway. This is in preparation for going out on the water

10:45am

Good morning. Our reporter Alex Winter is at Winchester Crown Court for the second day of the trial of the two men accused of murdering Rico Dardis.

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