TWO drug dealers shot dead and buried on a remote Cornish farm were working for an IRA gang that ran the Liverpool drugs trade, a court heard today.
Yorkshireman Thomas Haigh, one of two men accused of murdering Brett Flournoy and David Griffiths in June last year, claimed after he handed himself in to police that the men were working for an Irish republican group which “ran Liverpool”.
The trial of Haigh and Ross Stone at Truro Crown Court also heard that both blamed the other for killing the two men, to whom the alleged killers both owed money, in Stone’s case as much as £40,000.
Stone, who admits burying the bodies on his Sunny Corner farm at Trenance Downs, near St Austell, told police he arrived back at the farm on June 16 to find the bodies of the two men lying on the ground. A badly beaten Haigh was nearby, he said in an interview, and although he did not admit killing them, he told Stone “Dave (Griffiths) wouldn’t die”.
Haigh, who went to his native Yorkshire after the killing, hiding in Barnsley, told police after walking into a police station in Huddersfield Griffiths had beaten him up over a girl he had brought back to the farm and he had run off when the men were still alive. He claimed Stone later told him the men had left and handed him £200 he said was from the men, payment for “babysitting” Stone.
Had he been involved in the killing, he said, he would not have left it to a “thick farmer to tidy up” - a reference to Cornishman Stone disposing of the bodies - but would have taken them to “a friend’s pig farm”.
He also boasted of links to Triads and Turkish gangsters who could have whisked him from the country “with a click of their fingers” if he had been guilty.
Paul Dunkels QC, prosecuting, told the jury on the second day of the trial that both men’s claims were lies.
“When arrested by the police, the alliance between these two men broke down and self-interest took over,” he said.
“The murders were the result of the joint efforts of these two defendants.
“Although Haigh had worked for the two men and was sent to make sure Stone didn’t get out of line, he and Stone became allies.
“They had realised Flournoy and Griffiths were problems in their lives that were not going to go away. When these two men arrived there was a loaded shotgun waiting for them. It doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger, each of them played their part and so we say each of them is guilty of murder.
The badly burned bodies of Mr Griffiths, a father of three originally from Plymouth, Devon, but living in Bracknell, Berkshire, and Mr Flournoy, a boxer and father of two from Bebington, on the Wirral, Merseyside, were found dumped in the back of a van buried on the farm in July last year.
Haigh, 26, formerly of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and Stone, 28, from St Austell, Cornwall, both deny two counts of murder. Stone admits a charge of obstructing a coroner.
The trial has heard that Flournoy and Griffiths had “bought” Stone’s drug debt and had threatened to kill him and his family. Haigh, it has been claimed, worked for the pair and had previously acted as a drugs mule, bringing illegal narcotics back to Britain from Brazil.
The jury of seven men and five women today heard what the two men said after they were arrested.
Stone, who was already on bail for unconnected charges relating to cannabis he was growing in an underground bunker to pay off his drug debt, made several statements to the police, saying he had arrived back at Sunny Corner shortly after 9pm that night after Haigh phoned him in a “distraught” state.
“He said that as he approached he saw Griffiths’ body in the lane,” Mr Dunkels said.
“As he got into Sunny Corner he saw Flournoy’s body. He found Haigh, who said he had been very badly beaten. He did not say he had killed Flournoy and Griffiths but he did say ‘Dave would not die’.
“Stone said he believed Haigh killed both men.”
The “anxious” Stone, who told police the two men had threatened to shoot him and members of his family, admitted using his own mechanical digger to bury the bodies.
But, Mr Dunkels said, his story was contradicted by Haigh, who said he fled the scene after being attacked by Griffiths, who was “throwing a thrombo”.
“Haigh said he was being paid to be there. He went on to tell the police that when, on June 16, Flournoy and Griffiths went to Sunny Corner he had an argument with Griffiths over having brought a girl back to the farm,” Mr Dunkels said.
“Griffiths had hit him with a bit of wood but he had managed to disarm him. He then said Flournoy had got a gun out of the van so he ran off.”
Haigh then told police he went to a friend’s house, Mr Dunkels said, omitting to mention he went to a caravan of a friend, Damien Childs, to shower and change his clothes.
“He was trying to keep the police away from Childs, having showered and changed to get rid of evidence linking him to the murder, he didn’t want the police to know what he had been doing.”
Haigh admitted then getting back to Yorkshire by train, before making claims about knowing serious criminals, including triads, the court heard.
“He said Flournoy and Griffiths were working for an IRA firm which ran Liverpool,” Mr Dunkels said.
“He told police that through experience gained from others he knew how to get rid of bodies properly. He said he would bag them up and take them to a mate’s pig farm rather than, in his words, ‘leave it to a thick farmer to tidy up’.
“He told how he had links with the Turkish who could get him out of the country with a click of the finger if he had had anything to do with the murder.”
The court heard that police believe Stone obtained the shotgun used, through “local connections” and was also responsible for disposing of the weapon and spent cartridges.
The trial was adjourned until Monday, when the first witnesses will give evidence.