Hidden cash was holiday money, Peter Battle murder trial told

York Press: Peter Battle Peter Battle

THE Peter Battle murder trial jury has heard claims that £1,000 found hidden behind a microwave oven was a family nest egg rather than the alleged proceeds of a robbery.

It has been claimed the cash was heroin dealer Darren Archer’s share of the loot from robbing gold dealer Michael Cleaver in York.

The prosecution claims Mr Cleaver was set on only weeks before Graham Richardson murdered 56-year-old Mr Battle at his cottage in Full Sutton, near Pocklington.

But yesterday Chris Baker, father of Archer’s girlfriend Christine Baker, told Teesside Crown Court the £1,000 was his.

He claimed he had saved the money from his benefits, intending to take his son on a trip to Spain to visit his son’s grandparents.

But as time went on, he became concerned he might dip into the money because of his drinking and gambling habits.

He claimed he could not simply go ahead and book the holiday because his son was working as a landscape gardener and he did not know when he would be free.

So he decided to hand the cash over to his daughter for safe keeping last November, he told the jury.

Miss Baker said she hid it behind the microwave because she was living in a hostel and that was where she kept all her valuables, including her purse and mobile phone.

But after Archer, his cousin Peter Egan, and heroin user Richardson were arrested on suspicion of robbing Mr Cleaver the cash was confiscated by police.

Denying he was lying to help his daughter and her boyfriend, Mr Baker said he had come to court to get the money back and keep his promise to his son about the holiday.

Richardson alone is on trial for murdering Mr Battle, but claims he and Archer hatched the plot to rob him between them - which Archer denies. Richardson claims he found Mr Battle already dead after seeing Archer and three masked men running from the cottage with bags of loot.

Archer claims to have been celebrating new year with his family at the time of the attack.

Giving evidence, Miss Baker said: “He is innocent. I know he has not done that. He has always been with me and I would know. Darren had no reason to go and rob someone. Life is good for us.”

She denied lying to police about phone numbers Archer used in an attempt to avoid tying him to the murder scene by cell site tracking.

Richardson, 27, of Riverside View, Norton, denies murdering Mr Battle. Archer, 43, of Nunnery Lane, and Egan, 47, formerly of Walmgate, both York, deny robbing Mr Cleaver.

• The trial was adjourned until today.

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