Page last updated at 18:26 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Cut-up salesman was murder accused's 'drinking buddy'

Jeffrey Howe
Jeffrey Howe's body parts were found dumped in two counties

A salesman whose body was dismembered had given the man accused of his murder a place to stay and the pair were "drinking buddies", a jury has heard.

Pieces of Jeffrey Howe's cut-up body were found in Hertfordshire and Leicestershire last March and April.

Stephen Marshall, 38, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, and Sarah Bush, 21, of Southgate, London, deny murder.

The victim's ex-boss, John Moody, told St Albans Crown Court Mr Howe had been trying to help out the pair.

He enjoyed people's company. He was a decent bloke
John Moody, Mr Howe's former boss

The pair are accused of murdering the 49-year-old in March 2009.

Mr Moody said: "[Mr Howe] said he had offered Stephen Marshall a place to stay because he needed somewhere but he wasn't paying any rent and was eating him out of house and home.

"He was feeling uncomfortable going home because they were always there.

"He didn't want to put food in the cupboard because he wasn't eating it, they were eating it."

Mr Howe met Mr Marshall through work and the two had become "drinking buddies", the court was told.

'Very professional'

Mr Moody said: "He enjoyed people's company. He was a decent bloke.

"He was a very good salesman and very professional."

In the weeks leading up to his murder he was "not his usual happy self", he added.

The jury has heard Mr Howe was killed on 8 or 9 March in his flat in Southgate, north London.

Pc Stuart Tillotson told the jury how, on 16 March last year, he and a colleague, went to Mr Howe's flat at about 1130 GMT, in response to a missing person report.

He told jurors a light was on in the flat but there was no answer and so the pair decided to force entry.

'No blood'

He said after the door had been "kicked in" every room in the flat was checked.

Checking the rooms, he said there were no "visible traces of blood."

Jurors were told the oven appeared to be on and inside was a foil-wrapped meal.

Pc Tillotson said Mr Howe's passport was found on a coffee table, as well as other documents relating to Sarah Bush and Stephen Marshall.

Mr Howe's remains were discovered by members of the public in various locations, between 22 March and 11 April last year.

Previously the court has been told Mr Howe's body was cut up by someone who "understood human anatomy".

She said (Mr Howe) hadn't collected the rent for a while...that he had taken all his property and insisted she didn't know where he was
Statement by John Howe, the victim's brother

Mr Howe usually phoned his mother several times a week, the court was told, and she and his adoptive brother grew concerned when he stopped calling.

A statement made by John Howe and read out in court described how he had visited his brother's flat on 28 March and "a female with a towel around her head and underwear on underneath" had answered the door.

"I'd never seen her before and was surprised to see her," he said.

"She was short with me and I got the impression I was bothering her and she didn't want to speak to me.

"She said [Mr Howe] hadn't collected the rent for a while... that he had taken all his property and insisted she didn't know where he was."

Impeded investigation

On Tuesday, Mr Marshall admitted dismembering Mr Howe and disposing of his body parts.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of perverting the course of justice.

The first involved giving false information about the whereabouts of Mr Howe when police were conducting a missing person investigation.

Secondly, he admitted dismembering the victim's body and disposing of the parts in different places to impede the investigation.

Ms Bush denies dismembering Mr Howe and disposing of his body parts.

The trial will continue on Monday morning.

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