Breaking News: Fernhurst murder defendant ‘deeply regrets’ Michael Griffiths’s death

Police officers stop to interview motorists at the Fernhurst murder scene.'''Photo by Louise Adams C130132-3 Mid Fernhurst Murder
Police officers stop to interview motorists at the Fernhurst murder scene.'''Photo by Louise Adams C130132-3 Mid Fernhurst Murder

A DEFENDANT in the Fernhurst murder trial today (March 6) said he ‘deeply’ regretted what happened to victim Michael Griffiths.

But he says he was told Mr Griffiths had a heart attack, which caused his death.

Simon Penton, 43, of Markway, Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex, has admitted conspiracy to burgle homes in Loxwood, Poynings and a home near Godalming as well as Mr Griffiths’s home, but denies murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Michael Griffiths was found dead at his home in Fernhurst on January 24, 2013.

Penton said: “Burglaries devastate people’s lives. I know that, I am a family man now. It is an intrusion into people’s lives.”

Prosecuting, Christine Laing said: “It can be quite a lot more than an intrusion into people’s lives. You are adamant that you have never used violence, but do you think about the effect of shock on people?”

Miss Laing said Penton and his team struck again, “just 12 weeks after that burglary which caused the death of a man.”

He said: “I needed money. I deeply regret what happened at Old Glebe. What I do is wrong. I accept that everyone in this court is going to be looking at me like I’m the scum of the Earth.” But, he added, he was told by fellow defendant Harvey Munford that Michael Griffiths had suffered a heart attack.

He said Munford and Zack Cowdrey tied Mr Griffiths up after he died so as to move his body behind the door.

The prosecution has suggested the role played by defendant John Bartholomew was to provide information about Michael Griffiths. He was, said Miss Laing, the ‘source’ of information.

Penton also said he keeps his stolen property in a lock-up but refused to tell the court where it was.

On January 21, Mr Griffiths was round his brother’s house until the early hours of the morning. An attempt was made to gain entry to his house, but neighbours were alerted, said Penton.

Miss Laing said: “We have heard evidence that there were no disturbances. I’m going to suggest there was no attempt to get in on January 21 because Michael Griffiths wasn’t home. You needed him to be at home.”

Penton and Munford have previously been convicted of a burglary in the Portsmouth area.

Miss Laing said the team took two bags of valuables from Mr Griffiths and concluded: “You are the kind of person who lets other people do all the dirty work while you cover your tracks.

“You have given us a very detailed account about your involvement. There is no reason who you couldn’t have given this account to the police when they arrested you on May 30.”

Penton said he had taken legal advice and was unable to speak at the time.

Miss Laing argued: “It was only advice. You were asked question after question and you could have answered each and every one. You have chosen to wait until now to give your account, waited to construct a story.

“You only admit to what you think we can prove.

“Why did you feel bad for Harvey Munford when he told you somebody had died? Was it because Michael Griffiths had choked to death on him before you all got the information you wanted?”

The trial continues.