Murder case nears its climax

A VERDICT was expected on Thursday at the end of the trial of two men charged with the murder of 22-year-old Ben Wilson, of Wisbech. The two drunken men blamed each other for imposing fatal injuries on Mr Wilson. Adrian Pettingale, a bi-sexual and an alco

A VERDICT was expected on Thursday at the end of the trial of two men charged with the murder of 22-year-old Ben Wilson, of Wisbech.

The two drunken men blamed each other for imposing fatal injuries on Mr Wilson.

Adrian Pettingale, a bi-sexual and an alcoholic, and Neil Gowler carried out the attack after Mr Wilson made jokes about Pettingale's sexuality, a Cambridge Crown Court jury heard.

Gowler hit Mr Wilson over the head with a carved wooden table leg, and Adrian Pettingale kicked him when he fell to the floor.


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Pettingale, who chose not to give evidence, told police Gowler used the table leg on Mr Wilson "like a battering ram". Gowler had wanted him to help move Mr Wilson out of his flat after the attack, but Pettingale refused and Gowler left the premises.

Gowler, who gave only "no comment" interviews to the police, did give evidence to the court. He said he had "come to" to see Pettingale kicking Mr Wilson, and only later saw the table leg lying around in the lounge. He told the court he could not remember any gay taunting from Mr Wilson.

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Gowler, 26, of Golding Place, Wisbech, and 43-year-old Pettingale, of Prospect Place, Wisbech, had both denied murder.

The Crown had claimed they were involved in a joint enterprise to kill Mr Wilson, who was found with extensive fractures to both sides of his skull in Gowler's flat on November 13 last year.

He had also suffered lacerations to the brain, two black eyes, a bruised lip, bruised cheek, and fractures to the roof of both eye sockets.

He was ventilated and treated at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, and died on November 21.

The court had earlier been told that Gowler, David Boughen and Mr Wilson had shared several bottles of vodka on the day of the attack. Landlord of the Flower Pot pub, Stephen Cave, said Pettingale was "reasonably drunk" that day when he left the pub, saying he was about to have sex with a woman.

Summing up on behalf of Pettingale, barrister Stephen Ferguson said his client denied any kicking. His client had no motive and had been a drunken Good Samaritan after Gowler hit Mr Wilson.

"There is no evidence that Ben Wilson was some sort of homophobe, in drink or otherwise," he added.

He said Gowler had gone into the room "tooled up" and without warning.

"My client did not know this weapon of destruction was about to be brought in and wrought on the head of Ben Wilson, so where is the joint enterprise?" he asked.

Summing up the evidence, trial judge the Hon Justice David Bean told the jury: "Drunken intent is still intent. It is not a defence to say they would not have acted in this way if they were not drunk."

n The verdict will be posted on our website, www.wisbechstandard.co.uk as soon as it is announced.

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