Page last updated at 19:01 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 20:01 UK

Man denies involvement in killing

John Finney
The body of John Finney was found in Ickleford on 14 March

A man accused of murdering a traveller, who was then dismembered, has denied any involvement in the killing.

The headless and handless body of John Finney, 42, was found in Ickleford, Hertfordshire, last March.

Mark Curran, 28, Norman Jones, 50, his son Joseph Jones, 23, and Gary Lattimore, 40, all deny murder.

Opening Mr Curran's defence case at St Albans Crown Court, Timothy Roberts QC said the actions allegedly linking him to the murder were "innocent".

The prosecution claims the "ruthless" gang abducted, murdered and dismembered Mr Finney as revenge after he stole their "gear" - thought to be drugs.

The 42-year-old's naked body was found two weeks after the alleged murder on 29 February 2008 behind a garage block.

It's not a crime to contact an estate agent and get details and write down the numbers
Timothy Roberts, defence QC

His hands and head have never been found.

The prosecution says father-of-four Mr Finney was abducted from the caravan site he lived in at Park Farm, Northaw, Hertfordshire, then taken to an industrial unit in Hitchin where he was killed.

The unit was specially cleaned after the murder and a vehicle the victim was allegedly taken in was later found burnt-out in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, the court heard.

Burnt-out trunk

The jury has been told Norman and Joseph Jones were the "prime leaders" in the plot, but Mr Curran and Mr Lattimore aided and abetted them.

Mr Curran, who ran his own business buying and selling cars from Park Farm, is accused of being involved in the murder in three ways.

The prosecution allege he searched for an industrial unit for Mr Finney to be kept in, was the "inside man" at Park Farm, and also visited the site in Wheathampstead to check on the burnt-out van.

The court has heard Mr Curran contacted several estate agents inquiring after industrial units in February last year.

He worked at Park Farm and the prosecution say he was involved in an earlier incident where it is alleged Mr Finney spotted the "gear" on the back of his truck.

Mr Curran is also accused of visiting the site in Wheathampstead to check up on investigations into the burnt-out trunk.

'Innocent behaviour'

But opening Mr Curran's defence case, Mr Roberts QC told the court all of Mr Curran's actions could be described as "innocuous".

He said: "The behaviours the prosecution have laid before you as implicating him, they are innocent behaviours.

"It's not a crime to contact an estate agent and get details and write down the numbers.

"It's not a crime to be at the place where you are keeping old cars and to be involved in a business transaction with them late on a Friday night."

Mr Curran, of Mill Bridge, Dollis Valley Way, Barnet, Hertfordshire, Norman Jones, of Dukes Head Yard, Highgate, London, Joseph Jones, of Crescent Road, New Barnet, and Mr Lattimore, 40, of no fixed abode, all deny his murder.

The case continues.

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