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Rico Dardis murder trial coverage
This live event has finished
- 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.
That's the end of our live coverage for today. We'll have a full story online later on today.
Adjourned for lunch now and back at 2pm.
Before the break Gerlach said he had been furious since "meeting Rico" through the whole police process as he felt he was wrongly accused.
He said that was why he told Anita in one recorded conversation that he had no remorse for what happened. He said that statement was untrue.
In a separate conversation with Borzoni he suggested they should have put "the anchor around him". This was to cover up Mr Dardis' death, he said, as he believed they had done nothing wrong.
Gerlach says the meat cleaver was his, he would take on the boat to chop up food for picnics.
Mr Langdon is now asking about the bugging transcripts.
Mr Langdon asks why Getlach told police he didn't see how Mr Dardis came to be in the water.
He says: "I thought it would look a lot worse if we were seen to have pushed him off the boat."
They took a battery from the van to the boat. He says they needed it for the boat.
Mr Langdon is moving on to the police interviews now.
The jury is back. Mr Langdon asks if Gerlach recalls speaking to a Mr and Mrs Bennett on the beach.
He says he can't recall it clearly.
"You had a phone, do you know why you didn't call for help at any stage?"
"I don't recall."
Gerlach says he wasn't think straight: "nothing was clear".
Mr Langdon asks if he remembers telling a taxi driver he murdered someone. "No," he says.
He doesn't remember what was said in the shop later.
Does he know how the meat cleaver got into his wet bag. His valuables were in there.
Short break now.
They went to look, and Borzoni attempted to pull Mr Dardis back into the boat, Gerlach says.
But "it was all so surreal", and he is not sure what happened as the boat drifted to where it ended up.
He was turning to the right, to circle round and pick up Mr Dardis. But, he says, he didn't see him in the water.
"Next thing I know he was in the propeller."
"How do you know?"
"The engine stopped. I presumed it was what it was."
"Was the boat moving at this stage," asks the judge.
"No," says Gerlach, but he doesn't know if the engine was running or not.
"Why did you push him off the boat," asks Mr Langdon.
"It was a desperate situation, I didn't know how far he was going to go."
Gerlach says he "thinks" he went to the front of the boat to start it and manoeuvre it to "attempt to pick him up".
"What state of mind were you in?"
Gerlach says he "presumes" it was Borzoni who pulled Mr Dardis off him.
All three got up and the defendants "shoved him (Mr Dardis) to the back of the boat".
"It was a mad sort of shoving, grappling and pushing.
"We pushed him over the back, over the rear of the boat."
Mr Langdon asks if Mr Dardis took offence when Gerlach used a racial epithet to Borzoni.
Gerlach says "he might have done".
"When you used that word who where you referring to?"
"Lou." He says he can't recall Mr Dardis taking offence.
Gerlach says Mr Dardis lay in an unsafe position in the bow, then in the stern, and he told him off as it was dangerous.
He says there was an argument. The first thing he heard was raised voices, then "Rico punched Lou in the head".
Gerlach says Mr Dardis was standing when he punched Borzoni at least twice.
"It didn't end there, I was saying, using expletives, what, why are you doing this?"
He says he intervened but he thinks Mr Dardis was nevertheless able to punch Borzoni three more times.
"I remember him turning on me, he hit me, then I was on the deck on my back and he was on top of me repeatedly punching me."
"What were you doing, were you going somewhere?"
"Just a general ride around in the sea."
Gerlach says there were times they were stationary. He says while things were friendly "generally having a chit chat", Mr Dardis was walking around.
He allowed Mr Dardis to drive the boat. He says Mr Dardis put the boat into full throttle and Gerlach was thrown to the back. He says he pulled himself forward and turned the key.
"Was there an argument?"
"Not an argument, ill-feeling. I said you can't do that."
"We've heard evidence of you making a spectacle of yourselves, do you disagree with that?" asks Mr Langdon.
They all drink on the river, he says, and when out to sea. He says he can't remember Mr Dardis taking a drug, but he can remember Borzoni warning him not to throw a bottle overboard.
They went to the address of Stephen Trowbridge to pick stuff up. They already planned to use the boat as it was a "lovely day", says Gerlach.
He invited Mr Dardis, who was keen.
He says he didn't know what Mr Dardis was picking up. The judge asks if "gear" means anything to him. "Drugs" he replies.
He didn't have any cocaine however. By the time they reached the boat they had cans, vodka and cigarettes. He says he would take four cans of strong beer, four cans of weaker beer.
Gerlach took his bike out to get it repaired by his brother-in-law's neice or nephew. He struggles to remember his name.
He stopped off to see Borzoni. Mr Dardis was there. He says he had never met him before.
He says he had some drink, they probably had some as he is generous with drink when he has it.
Langdon asks about the incident Monday, May 27 last year.
Gerlach says he may have had his first alcoholic drink in bed but he can't remember.
Gerlach says he was brought up around boats.
He bought the rib No Chance in February 2012.
A few months later he paid more than £1,000 for repairs. He would "quite regularly" run aground due to the shallow route out of the harbour.
They used to drink together.
Gerlach acknowledges his criminal record, including drink driving, affray, common assault and criminal damage. He pleaded guilty to these offences, he says.
Last year he was involved in a motorbike crash which left him with a punctured lung, in an induced coma. He admits he was drink driving at the time.
Gerlach met his co-defendant some seven years ago at a half-way house.
He became homeless after his home was repossessed during an earlier period of redundancy.
He was there for about a year, he says, until he secured a new job as a site manager.
Mr Langdon asks if Gerlach has a good memory.
"I have a terrible memory."
He says he once had a very good memory but it had deteriorated from about two years ago, perhaps due to his drinking. He went to a doctor about it.
He bought a boat for around £12,000, plus a £4,000 bike and a Peugeot for his wife Anita.
They also went on "relatively expensive" holidays.
"You have been described as alcoholic at the time of these events," says Mr Langdon.
"Each time I'm made redundant I collapse into the drink."
He says a bottle of vodka a day. He was taking cocaine "infrequently". He has done this for about ten years.
He says he worked as a carpenter and site manager in the Bournemouth area, with two recent periods of redundancy.
About two years ago he was made redundant. He says he looked for work but was despondent after having to pick himself up for a second time.
He had inherited some money from relatives but had spent it all by the time of Mr Dardis' death.
Langdon: "Did you push Mr Dardis off your boat?"
Langdon: "Did you deliberately run him over?"
The jury is in, the first witness today is Paul Gerlach.
He will be examined first by his counsel Andrew Langdon.
Good morning, court is expected to start at 10.30am today.