‘Son helped mum chop up her partner’, Doncaster murder trial told

Thomas Groome

Thomas Groome

A ‘controlling and violent’ man helped his mother to murder her partner, chop up his body and burn it in the back garden, a court heard.

Jason Junior Thaxter is accused of murdering Thomas Groome, pictured, so he and his mum could enjoy a €150,000 windfall their victim had received, Sheffield Crown Court was told.

The killing took place on or around New Year’s Day in 2010 and Thaxter’s mother, June Buttle, admitted manslaughter last year.

Thaxter, aged 39, of Ramsden Road, Hexthorpe, is accused of murdering 54-year-old Thomas, a Doncaster car salesman, at the house the defendant shared with his former partner and their children.

Dafydd Enoch QC, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court Thaxter confessed to his crime to his then-girlfriend, Rebecca Duggan, just hours after the killing.

Mr Enoch said Rebecca told police that Thomas Groome and June Buttle, who had been in a relationship for ten years, had visited the couple’s home, on Exeter Road, Wheatley, unannounced around lunch time.

She said Thomas was keen to set off to Portugal, where he was due to buy a bar and start a new life with Buttle using some of the 150,000 Euros he had received in compensation from the Irish Government – but she didn’t seem enthusiastic.

Mr Enoch told the court: “Rebecca Duggan had been in a relationship with the defendant since she was 16-years-old, she lived with him and they had children, but she was very vulnerable and he was controlling and violent.

“She heard June Buttle telling her son how Thomas Groome was mistreating her, as if she was trying to turn Jason Thaxter against him.

“She left the house in a taxi with the children to go to her sisters’ and when she returned at 10pm that evening she expected to them to be gone. She was surprised to see Thomas Groome’s car was still there.

“When she went inside, Thomas Groome wasn’t there, but June Buttle was. She asked where he was. June said they had split up and Tommy, as he was known, had left but had left her the car – and she’d given it to Thaxter.

“But she noticed Thomas’ laptop was in the kitchen, his clothes were by the settee and June Buttle was using his mobile phone. Buttle also put £2,000 of Irish money in to her purse. All things you would think Thomas Groome would have taken with him if he had left.”

Rebecca put the children to sleep and then went to bed herself. A short time later, the court heard Thaxter came into the bedroom and confessed to the killing.

Mr Enoch said: “He said to Rebecca that his mum had told him some of the stuff Tommy had done to her and then said he had killed him. Rebecca Duggan was shocked. The defendant told her he had hit Thomas Groome with a golf club, choked him to death and then burnt him in the back garden and chopped him up.”

The court heard he told Rebecca he did it so himself and Buttle could get access to Thomas’ money.

Police later found that the first attempt to withdraw cash from Mr Groome’s bank account was made at 10.22pm on New Year’s Day.

Mr Enoch said Rebecca did not tell police about Thaxter’s confession until June last year because she was fearful of him, but by that time she was in a new relationship and felt she was safe enough to come forward.

Thaxter claims he had no part in the killing, saying he did not have a close relationship with his mother. He alleges Rebecca was close with Buttle, and the pair acted together to murder Thomas.

Mr Enoch refuted these claims, telling the court it was physically impossible for Duggan to deliver the force possible to leave Mr Groome with fatal injuries.

Buttle, who is serving a 16-year jail term, admitted she had acted with a male accomplice, although she refused to give police his name.

However, in confessions to two people she told them she and Thaxter killed Mr Groome.

Thaxter denies murder and conspiracy to prevent the burial of a body.

The trial continues.