Murder victim was ‘lovely fellow’, jury told

Alan James Easton and below the scene where his body was discovered
Alan James Easton and below the scene where his body was discovered

The son of a woman accused of murdering a man whose body was found on farmland near Bawtry has been giving evidence at her trial.

Andrew Dowling told the jury at Nottingham Crown Court that Alan Easton was a ‘lovely fellow’ and a ‘very down to earth gentleman.’

Police attend the murder scene at Everton.

Police attend the murder scene at Everton.

Mr Easton’s body was found in a shallow grave in a ditch off Middle Cross Lane near Everton in February last year.

Mr Dowling’s mother Angela, 48, of Windmill Avenue, Conisbrough; Matthew Duffy, 23, of Sussex Street, Balby; and Mark Bingham, 50, of Fishponds Road West, Woodthorpe, Sheffield have gone on trial accused of murdering him.

Stephen Schofield, 31, a lodger at the Dowling house in Windmill Avenue, Conisbrough, has admitted murdering Mr Easton, 50, who had moved from Dumbartonshire in Scotland to Conisbough less than a week before his death.

Mr Dowling told the court that a few days after his father’s funeral he suggested he went with his mother to Scotland to visit Mr Easton, a family friend. He suspected Mr Easton had feelings for his mother, and he encouraged her to pursue them.

A few days after they returned Mr Dowling learned of his mother’s engagement to Mr Easton, and less than a week later he moved down to Conisbrough.

The jury was told that on the day of his death, Mr Dowling heard Schofield and Duffy say they were going to ‘scare’ Mr Easton into going back to Scotland.

“It didn’t make any sense. One minute they were joking, the next saying they are going to scare him, and then next minute they were joking again,” said Mr Dowling.

Mr Easton believed he was going out for a celebratory meal with Duffy, Dowling and Schofield, but instead was taken to a remote location, beaten and stabbed and buried in a ditch.

Mr Dowling said he remained at home with Bingham watching a film.

The jury heard that Dowling called Bingham. A few seconds of the call were played on loudspeaker, during which Mr Dowling heard his mother say, ‘there were some lights coming towards me.’

Mr Dowling told the court he was concerned for his mother and called her back. The first time the call went to voicemail and the second time Duffy answered. Duffy told Mr Dowling that there had been an argument about football and Mr Easton had punched him, so he was put on a train back to Scotland.

Dowling, Duffy and Schofield returned to the house and they had a takeaway.

The jury heard that the day after Mr Easton’s belongings were sold and taken to charity shops.

Mr Dowling said: “I thought it was a bit weird. He had sold most of his things to get down here and he didn’t have any clothes. I thought it was a bit odd she would send him back.”

The jury heard that a few days later Dowling left a message on Mr Easton’s phone saying she was concerned she had not heard from him and wanted to check he had got home safe.

The trial continues next week.