Tom Bell murder trial: Defendant's ex-partner claims victim was involved in attempted robbery at her home

The partner of a man accused of shooting dead Doncaster boxer, Tom Bell, at a crowded pub claims Mr Bell attempted to rob her at her home three years ago.

By Sarah Marshall
Monday, 08 July, 2019, 16:18
'Promising boxer' Tom Bell was fatally shot at the Maple Tree pub in Balby on January 17 this year

Mr Bell was just 21-years-old when he suffered the fatal injuries at the Maple Tree pub in Balby on January 17 this year.

Scott Goucoul, 28, and Joseph Bennia, 30, both of no fixed abode, are currently on trial at Sheffield Crown Court, accused of Mr Bell’s murder.

The prosecution allege that one of the defendants acted as the gunman while the other had the role of getaway driver, but say they cannot be sure who had which role.

Goucoul’s former partner, Francesca Salt, told the jury today how two men, one of whom she believes was Mr Bell, attempted to rob her at her home in July 2016.

Ms Salt said the incident took place after she answered a knock at her front door, believing it was one of her neighbours.

“Two young lads jumped towards me, pushed the door open so I had to go back, and then shut the door behind them. They were saying they wanted my money,” said Ms Salt.

Hundreds of people turned out for the funeral of Tom Bell at St Peters in Chains Church in Doncaster on February 18 this year

She said one of the men did the talking, while the other stayed silent.

Ms Salt continued: “He kept saying: ‘We know you’ve got the money’. I said: ‘Search the house if you want’. He sent the other lad in the living room, and he walked around.

“I said my little lad’s got cancer and he’s upstairs and can hear what’s going on, and that’s really when they went.”

Ms Salt said she believed the more talkative of the two men to be Mr Bell.

“I knew who it was because he tried to add me on Facebook about two weeks before...I never met him though,” she said.

The jury of eight women and four men was told that Goucoul was in prison at the time of the incident.

Ms Salt said she told him what had happened at the time and described him as being ‘mad’ about it.

She said she went to the police to report the incident a couple of days after it had taken place, but subsequently made a second statement saying she did not want the police to investigate it.

“I was scared, I didn’t want to come to court,” she explained, and said she was apprehensive about reporting the incident to police from the offset, due to fear of recriminations and being labelled a ‘grass’.

Representing Goucoul, Katherine Goddard QC, referred to the statement Ms Salt gave to the police in January this year in which she stated she was aware of a ‘dispute’ between Goucoul, Mr Bell and Charlie Bell – Mr Bell’s brother.

Ms Salt also said in her statement that she did not believe Goucoul would have done anything that could ‘risk’ him being taken away from their young son.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“So you weren’t aware of any suggestion that Scott wanted a form of revenge on Tom or Charlie for that matter,” asked Ms Goddard.

Ms Salt replied: “Yeah. They weren’t friends, but everything had just been left….they hadn’t shaken hands, but they had seen each other a few times [since Goucoul was released from prison in October 2018] and nothing had happened.”

Ms Goddard said: “Your impression was that any issues there had been from the summer of 2016 had long been laid to rest?”

“Yeah,” replied Ms Salt.

Ms Salt told the court that Mr Bell contacted her on Facebook shortly after the attempted robbery ask her why she had told people he had something to do with it.

She claims he told her: “I’ve got my own money, I don’t need yours.”

Ms Goddard asked Ms Salt about two incidents that took place after the attempted robbery, in which her father’s property and car were targeted.

She said: “There were two further incidents at your father’s house. No-one saw who did it, but the Bell family were thought to be involved...the windows [at his house] were shot through on two occasions, and on one of those occasions his car was set on fire.”

“Yeah,” replied Ms Salt.

“When these things happened to your father’s house, how did Scott react,” asked Ms Goddard.

Ms Salt replied: “He wasn’t really that bothered at first. It was the middle of the night when it happened.”

Ms Goddard continued: “How did that change?”

“He just wanted to know who it was, and obviously there were rumours flying about, and he found out it was probably Tom,” said Ms Salt.

Ms Goddard asked Ms Salt whether Goucoul had ever talked about getting revenge on Mr Bell’s over the attacks at her father’s house.

“Not to me. He said it was because I had been to the police,” she said.

Ms Salt said she broke up with Goucoul earlier this year ‘after all this happened’.

Goucoul and Bennia both deny murdering Mr Bell.

The trial continues.