"I feel like ****": Earls Barton murder accused tells jury it was wrong to track Marion Price

Stephen Welch is giving evidence for the first time in the trial

Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 9:00 am
The scene after Marion was murdered last year. Credit: SWNS
The scene after Marion was murdered last year. Credit: SWNS

A man accused of helping his best friend before and after he allegedly murdered Marion Price has told a jury it was "very wrong" to track her.

Stephen Welch, 61, gave evidence from the witness box yesterday (Tuesday) for the first time at Northampton Crown Court after Marion was shot dead in a car park near her flat in Packwood Crescent, Earls Barton, on December 15 last year.

The prosecution allege his long-term friend Mike Reader, Marion's ex-husband, was 'obsessed by money' and tracked her movements before shooting her. Welch, of Kingsthorpe, is also charged with murder as the prosecution allege he helped him in the planning of it by changing a tracker battery and then picking him up and disposing of Reader's clothes in the River Nene after the shooting.

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Welch, who wore jeans and a shirt, accepted that he assisted Reader, 70, in the long-term tracking of Marion's car but said he seeks justice for her.

John Cammegh QC, who is defending Welch, asked him: "In view of what happened on the night of December 15, how do you feel about your conduct?"

Welch replied: "It was very wrong what we did and I do feel very guilty.

"If that led to Marion dying then yes I do feel guilty."

Jurors were told Reader, of Booth Rise in Northampton, had originally bought the tracker to safeguard his valuable Jaguar before it was used to track Marion's movements over several months.

The court heard Welch had helped him top it up with credit but did not learn that his friend was using it to track his ex-wife until July.

Last week Reader gave evidence and told jurors that he had never been to Packwood Crescent and that he had never changed the battery. He stated that Welch would change the battery for him when it ran low and that Welch had organised for a man he did not know to do it when Welch was out of the country.

Yesterday Welch told jurors that he would drive Reader to Packwood Crescent but park a short distance away so Reader wouldn't be seen when he changed the tracker battery. Welch said he had never changed the battery on Marion's car outside her flat and could not remember ever getting out of his car.

When asked about his role in driving Reader there, Welch said: "I just took it that he had his reasons for doing it."

Mr Cammegh said: "How do you feel about that now?"

Welch asked: "Am I allowed to use the words?"

Mr Cammegh said: "Yes."

Welch replied: "I feel like ****."

When asked what was in for him to ferry Reader around, Welch told jurors it "gave him something to do" and he was "just doing him a favour".

The court heard Welch, who has married three times and is a former mechanic, first met Reader when he was 15 because Reader used to work with his brother.

Years later the pair got to know each other through the motor trade and became good friends, visiting each other regularly and playing snooker.

Welch previously spent time living in both Australia and Thailand and would meet up with Reader every time he visited the UK before he moved home in 2012.

He said he didn't see it coming when Marion left Reader and that when he asked Reader why she had left he told him he didn't know.

Welch had attended both days of a trial in 2018 when Reader was cleared of GBH over allegations he had hit Marion with a mallet.

He said he was there to support his best mate and "let him know there was a friendly face in court on his side".

Welch denies ever being party to a plan to kill Marion or ever being aware of a plan to kill the 63-year-old grandmother.

Mr Cammegh asked him: "If Mike Reader had asked would you have harmed Marion?"

Welch said: "No."

Mr Cammegh said: "Or taken part in enterprise that ended up in her being harmed?"

Welch replied: "No."

The trial continues.

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