Jury begins deciding fate of Rainham murder suspect accused of beating alcoholic to death with vodka bottle

Police and forensic officers at the scene of a murder on Hood Road in Rainham

Police and forensic officers at the scene of a murder on Hood Road in Rainham - Credit: Archant

The jury has begun its deliberations in the case of a serial offender who allegedly beat an alcoholic to death with a vodka bottle hours after being released from custody.

Mark Croxson, 48, of no fixed abode, is accused of murdering 51-year-old Rodney Parlour on or around October 1 last year at Mr Parlour’s flat in Hood Road, Rainham.

Snaresbrook Crown Court had heard that on that Saturday Mr Croxson, released from custody only that morning, was with his sister Natalie at Mr Parlour’s flat, where a fight soon broke out.

This fight ended with Mr Parlour’s death.

On the first day of the trial’s third week, Judge Martyn Zeidman QC summed up the crown’s case against Mr Croxson before the twelve jurors began their deliberations.

He told them: “The prosecution says that the defendant did use deliberate violence, that he stamped on Rodney Parlour’s head or chest and also hit him with a bottle.

“You don’t have to be sure that he did all those things, but you do have to be sure that he did apply some deliberate violence.

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“The defence case is that this did not happen at all, that Mr Croxson did not stamp or hit Rodney Parlour with a bottle, and that the only force the defendant did use was that one ‘lucky punch’ in the scrap he described in his own evidence, which he says Rodney Parlour started anyway.”

Before retiring to decide its verdict, Judge Zeidman warned the jury to be wary of evidence given that may have been distorted by the witness’ alcohol consumption, as Mr Croxson’s sister Natalie, one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, was drunk at the time she claims to have witnessed the horrific attack.

Judge Zeidman said: “At various times during the course of this trial we have heard about drunkenness or alcoholism, and with that in mind I would advise you to tread carefully, particularly around Natalie’s account, who we have heard from the defendant was a nine out of 10 on the drunk/sober scale at the time of the incident.”

He also reiterated medical evidence the jury had heard at the trial’s outset where a post-mortem had ruled that Mr Parlour died of “blunt force trauma to the head and chest” after suffering 67 separate injuries.

Reading from the pathologist’s report, he said: “The number, severity and wide distribution of the trauma strongly suggests the intentional application of blunt force.”

However, upon cross-examination by defence solicitor Graham Trembath QC, the pathologist admitted he had been unable to rule out the possibility that individually, each of Mr Parlour’s injuries could have been caused by a fall down the stairs.

But according to Judge Zeidman, the expert had commented that “he had never seen so many fractures caused by a fall down the stairs.

And when asked if, in his personal opinion, every single one of Mr Parlour’s 67 injuries could have been caused by a fall down the stairs, the pathologist said such an occurrence was “inconceivable”.

Mr Croxson denies murder. The trial continues.